Increasing vandalism and theft of electrical infrastructure have led to more frequent and prolonged power outages in Ocean View with residents fearing for their safety.
Ocean View is just one of several hot spots in the city grappling with this issue and much of the theft and vandalism happens under the cover of darkness, especially during higher stages of load shedding, says mayoral committee member for energy Beverly van Reenen.
“The recurring incidents of vandalism significantly affect both the infrastructure and the community. In cases of prolonged unplanned outages, the City teams make every effort to repair and restore the supply as quickly as possible,“ she said.
Communities were often left without electricity supply for long periods because of this type of crime, she said.
Terence Daniels, deputy president of the Ocean View Community Police Forum, said there was daily reporting of theft and vandalism of electrical boxes and cables in the area with incidents spiking during load-shedding hours.
“The perpetrators usually operate between 2am and 4am,” Mr Daniels said, adding that street lights and transformers were also vulnerable.
“They steal any length of copper wires in that main box,” he said.
Resident Vasco Vigis said: “When the lights go off, the community feels unsafe, and then there’s this tension and unease. There’s no real peace; it makes you anxious, and you don’t sleep.You worry for your neighbours. You worry for the people around you.”
Ms Van Reenen said the City was taking steps to protect critical infrastructure during times of increased load-shedding.
On Wednesday May 24, the City launched its new Energy Safety Team to patrol hot spots and support law enforcement in their efforts to protect key electricity infrastructure.
“This not only improves service delivery to communities but also reduces the risks faced by officials on duty,” Ms Van Reenen said.
The City was also prioritising repairs for extended outages caused by load-shedding and vandalism, running awareness drives and beefing up security, she said.
The City is asking the public to report any suspicious activity near electricity infrastructure to the police or the City (SMS 31220 or email email@example.com) and it is offering a reward of R5000 to anyone who provides information that leads to arrests or the confiscation of stolen goods.