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Health And Welfare

City launches Let’s ACT electricity campaign amid crisis-levels of theft, vandalism

The City recorded 223 incidents of electricity vandalism and illegal connections in the first quarter of 2024 at a cost of approximately R6,26 million. The metro’s Area South was the hardest hit with a whopping 57% of incidents and the Mitchells Plain districts being especially impacted with a massive 94 incidents.

What teams are finding on the ground:

1.     The destruction caused by the vandalism and theft is so severe in some areas that entire circuits and grids need to be rebuilt. The restoration of power in many cases is thus not an uncomplicated and fast task as it could take a week or more to rebuild an entire grid for a street or area.

2.     The escalating safety situation is a real threat to service delivery. The City and its contractors can only attend to service requests when it is safe to do so. Where possible, City teams are being accompanied by City law enforcement or private security when resources are available. The City is advising many of its contractors to set in place plans to be able to rapidly leave a particular area if the security risk becomes too great as teams are very vulnerable when they are attempting to fix infrastructure in some of the high risk communities.

3.     Repeated vandalism – within hours: For instance, recently in Leonsdale, City teams fixed streetlights the very next day – most of the lights were vandalised again. The City is looking at technological innovations to reduce this risk, but teams are working under abnormal conditions.

4.     City teams remain absolutely dedicated to service delivery despite the challenges.


Incidents per area for the first quarter of 2024:

·       Area South recorded 127 (57%) incidents – this includes areas such as Mitchells Plain, Wynberg, Muizenberg, Gugulethu, among others

·       Area North recorded 62 (28%) incidents

·       Area East recorded 34 (15%) incidents 

‘Criminals mostly target overhead cable supplying customers, streetlights and kiosks, all of which could be easily accessed. Substation repairs were the most expensive, though there were few incidents recorded for this equipment type. The repairs go far beyond normal maintenance and repair budgets as in many instances the grids of entire areas must be rebuilt – work that would normally be planned for in the capital budget a year or two ahead of the required work. This, together with the escalated criminality and violence in many areas where we are working has a big impact on restoration times. City teams have thus implemented a triage system – where we look at area faults, emergency work and entire roads where streetlights are out. Due to the workload, timing and abnormal situation, we attend to individual streetlight requests as soon as we are able to do so. We are adding interventions and remain absolutely committed to service delivery. Progress is already being made in some areas where we have added interventions.

‘So in response to these alarming statistics, we aim to make our infrastructure more resilient, and to reduce the scope for vandalism over time. Against the background of high levels of vandalism, theft and load-shedding damage, the City plans to invest more than R4bn in electricity grid upgrades and maintenance over three years.

 ‘Infrastructure vandalism, illegal connections and damage to electricity equipment continue to be a challenge across the metro, as it often results in constant electricity outages in both City- and Eskom-supplied impacted areas. We cannot allow this criminality to continue. Repairs of the same vandalised infrastructure is not feasible, places pressure on City resources and negatively impacts our residents.

 Today, 2 May 2024, we are officially launching our campaign against electricity vandalism. Let’s ACT to protect our power! We call on communities across the city to help keep the lights on and to adopt the electricity infrastructure in their neighbourhoods. Keep your eyes and ears open to energy criminality. When we all work together, we can make a big impact. Report any and all criminals stealing or vandalising community infrastructure,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Energy, Councillor Beverley van Reenen.


Report suspicious behaviour to the City’s Public Emergency Communication Centre: 021 480 7700


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