The power of the people

By Everson Luhanga

Residents of Alexandra have taken it into their own hands to protect City Power infrastructure.

They have raised money and recruited patrollers to protect electricity infrastructure.

This comes as most of the community were left in the dark after criminals dug up and stole copper cable worth R70,000.

Residents took the initiative on Sunday to help officials to repair damaged cables that brought power outages in parts of Gomora.

Men arrived in numbers to help and to protect the officials who worked in the dark hours. They managed to repair the cables and power was restored.

In less than three days, criminals took advantage of the soft soil where the cables were buried. They dug and stole a copper cable on the busy Shakespeare Road in River Park just outside the substation.

The criminals made off with 100 metres of copper cable with an estimated value of R70,000. 

And the township was back in the dark.

This frustrated residents including the men who worked hard to help officials to install the cables who couldn’t believe it.

They came back to help the officials but this time with a monetary solution. They raised money from their own pockets to buy concrete to cover the trenches so that thugs should not steal the cables again.

Leader of the group Michael Ngobeni said it is their responsibility as residents to help and protect City Power officials working in their community.

“Electricity benefits us. The officials needed manpower hence we came together on Sunday to help them,” said Ngobenil.

He said the community convened a meeting on Tuesday that agreed to donate money to buy concrete to cover the trenches so that thugs should find it hard to dig and steal again.

Another participating resident, Abraham Mahumani, said their biggest worry is that the stolen cables are on a busy street and people must have seen the thieves. But no one reported them.

He said besides raising money for the concrete, the community agreed that they should deploy patrollers around the area to protect the infrastructure.

Johannesburg City Power spokesperson Isaac Mangena said the entity has recorded about 1,300 incidents of cable theft and vandalism since the beginning of the financial year, with arrests approaching 200.

“In 2021/2022 we recorded 2,175 incidents of cable theft and vandalism.”

He said these crimes caused massive revenue loss and negatively affected service delivery to Johannesburg residents.

Pictured above: Residents help officials repair damaged cables in Alexandra

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