Durban – Questions have been raised over the efficiency of Msunduzi Municipality’s security system, after it emerged a number of the city’s power stations had become targets of cable thieves that were stripping stations of essential equipment.
At a meeting of the city’s executive committee last week, it was reported that stations including Eastwood and Mayor’s Walk were targeted.
Deputy mayor and chairperson of the infrastructure services portfolio committee Mxolisi Mkhize said it was worrying that cable thieves had identified load shedding times as an opportunity to vandalise infrastructure.
He gave an undertaking that this week they would conduct a site inspection at the affected stations to determine the extent of the damage.
According to DA councillor Ross Strachan, the Mayor’s Walk station had been vandalised twice this year, leaving many residents in Prestbury without power.
Community Services GM Mlungisi Mathe said that the substations were under surveillance via CCTV cameras.
This prompted a question on the usefulness of the measure as thieves were still able to steal cables.
It emerged that because security personnel were under a different business unit, there was a need to get permission from the senior management for the deployment of security to affected stations.
Mayor Mzi Thebolla said: “We must learn to work together,” warning against business units operating in isolation.
He noted that while there were challenges to power supply in parts of the KZN capital, the municipality was improving its service delivery in this crucial area.
“The fact is 92% of our street lights are working and our turnaround time where there are outages has improved,” said the mayor.
Exco members stressed that there was a need to ensure that electricity was not abused by residents that did not want to pay.
Exco member Bongani Mbona said there were instances where facilities were used by residents for personal gain. “One of the options that should be explored is to ensure that the street light power supply is not easily accessible as this will go a long way towards ensuring that there is minimum room for tampering by residents,” he said.
He cited instances where schools had accumulated huge debts on water and electricity as an indication of theft carried out by residents.
The municipality is currently continuing with its drive of recouping millions of rand owed by businesses, government departments and residents. It has previously said the campaign has been effective with at least R100 million collected in three weeks in September.
Meanwhile, Eskom said various stages of load shedding will be implemented this week.
Stage 4 resumed at 5pm last night and will end at 4pm today.
“Stage 5 load shedding will be implemented during the evenings at 4pm to midnight from Monday to Wednesday. Load shedding will vary between Stage 4 and Stage 2 during the day until Wednesday,” Eskom said.