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Nelson Mandela Bay mayor suspects ‘strategic’ cable theft as ‘act of sabotage’ after weekend without power

Nelson Mandela Bay mayor suspects ‘strategic’ cable theft as ‘act of sabotage’ after weekend without power
About 300 people from wards 46 and 47 blocked the busy Matanzima Road near KwaNobuhle on Monday. Their electricity had been off since Friday after cables were stolen in the area. (Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane)

Power was restored on Monday night to about 50,000 residents following days without electricity.

Protests erupted in parts of the Nelson Mandela Bay on Monday afternoon after about 50,000 residents had been left without electricity since Friday due to cable theft. The power was restored late on Monday night.

Mayor Retief Odendaal announced a reward of R20,000 for information that leads to the arrest of cable thieves.

Odendaal said he had “a strong suspicion” that the theft of cables was “an act of sabotage”.

“The reason for such suspicion is the fact that only a small section of the cables has been removed at a very strategic place, done in a way to cause six wards in the KwaNobuhle to be left without electricity,” he said.

At about 5pm on Monday, about 300 people from wards 46 and 47 blocked the busy Matanzima Road with vehicles and burning tyres. Some people were seen pelting passing police vans and a fire truck with stones and shouting: “Go away! When our houses are on fire, you arrive only when they are in ashes.”

Ward 46 Councillor Ntobeko Nqakula (ANC) arrived and told the crowd, “We had about 14 meetings in my ward this year, but you never raised the issue of electricity. We should be patient.”

Cable theft, cable repair

Workers at the site on Monday where the cables were stolen and damaged last Friday. (Photo: Thamsanqa Mbovane)

Siyabonga Stemele, a resident from Area 11 informal settlement in Gunguluza, said, “We need to propose that metro police be visible at scrap yards across the city. Whoever is found with stolen cables, the law should take its course.”

An artisan on site where the cables were stolen said four feeder cables were damaged and estimated the repair cost to be R450,000.

Mayco Member for Electricity and Energy Lance Grootboom said, “We are concerned that in the last seven days the municipality has seen 23 major electricity substation outages. The latest vandalism affected six wards in the KwaNobuhle cluster.”

Grootboom said he has requested a detailed report on all the recent outages. “I specifically requested that if instances of a lack of maintenance or sabotage are discovered that strict accountability and action be taken against any persons implicated,” he said. DM

First published by GroundUp.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Deon Botha-Richards says:

    If the damage is that deep and such a small section of cable is involved it’s highly likely to be sabotage rather than theft.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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