Beware of phoney municipal staff

Joan MacJuan, Lakeside

On Tuesday afternoon July 19 two guys dressed in municipal suits with their name cards on their chests, carrying a clipboard with the full information of several blocks of flats in Lakeside, Fish Hoek and Tokai came to Karper Road in Lakeside.

I did not open the gate for them and spoke to them through the fence. They informed me that they were from the electricity department and had made arrangements to upgrade the prepaid meter boxes.

I informed them that I had not been notified and I would phone the department to clear this up. When one of the visitors opened the gate to leave they rushed inside the complex. I was walking to my flat when they overtook me and went straight into my flat.

When I entered, they wanted to know where the meter box was. One of them went into the kitchen and was explaining what had to be done. He actually blocked my exit from the kitchen – I kept telling him I did not want a new meter.

The second guy went to the bedrooms and was supposedly taking cellphone photos of the plugs. The guy in the bedroom opened my bedroom cupboard and removed a little wooden box full of antique jewels.

There were two watches, one a gold Movado; about 20 little brooches; earrings; and eight rings, three diamond, a ruby, a pearl, amethyst and two jade set in silver.

The diamond rings were valued at R120 000. He also took my cellphone and my car keys and keys for the out buildings.

There were also two medallions I was awarded by the department of health for distinguished service and a 50-year award for long service and my new glasses, which I had just had made.

I only found out that all this was stolen after they had left. They still had the cheek to say they would see me when they came in to fit the new meter.

When my son came home from work, he lives two doors down the road, he took me to the Muizenberg police station to report the theft.

The officer informed my son and I that they were the same two who had done the same exercise at Mez Wallach and several other blocks in Fish Hoek and Tokai

How did they get all the information out of the municipal offices? Surely there is security for the information we give them. Pages and pages of people’s information – name, age, flat number, how long you had lived in the flat and how many people in each flat etc.

It is sad that the elderly folk spend a lifetime working and putting together for their old age, and then this happens. I worked for 53 years in the same hospital and used to collect rings and little bits of jewellery as a hobby. All things that really have memories and most not worth much except the rings.

• The City’s mayoral committee member for enery Beverley van Reenen responds: The City is unfortunately aware of scammers who are posing routinely as electricity officials to gain access to residents’ homes in some areas across the metro and urges residents to be aware of this scam.

Criminals, often dressed in municipal clothing and carrying some form of identification, operate by visiting residents at their homes and insisting they open the front door so that electricity infrastructure, including the meter, can be checked.

All municipal workers and contractors must carry a work-order number specific to that dwelling and a City-issued identification card. Residents should ask to check the official identification card as well as verify the work-order reference number with the City’s call centre before allowing anyone onto their property.

The identification card must display the City logo, the name and surname of the staff member or mandated contractor, and must contain an embedded photo of the staff member or mandated contractor. Residents are not to allow anyone onto their premises until they have verified these details.

Any suspicious behaviour must be reported to the City’s law enforcement agencies or the City’s fraud hotline at 0800 323 130 or to SAPS.

Members of the public can verify whether visitors to their home are in fact employed by the City by calling 0860 103 089 to confirm whether work is being carried out in their area.

• Muizenberg police spokesman Warrant Officer Stephen Knapp confirmed that a case had been opened.