Copper cable theft: dangerous and costly

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By Kotie Geldenhuys

In the early hours of a rainy morning in Soweto, three individuals known as izinyoka (the Zulu word for snakes), quietly prepared to target a substation nestled deep within the urban landscape. On the porch of a dilapidated home, they donned coveralls resembling those of municipal workers and shared a smoke of nyaope. Eventually, their leader spoke above the pattering rain on the corrugated iron roof, while distributing firearms. This leader has a network of informants strategically placed in various locations and had already bribed the security officers. The plan involved removing four football-sized bolts, each packed with kilograms of high-quality copper wiring. While this act of vandalism would likely result in a prolonged power outage, they anticipated that in a part of the city accustomed to intermittent electricity supply to schools, their actions would go unnoticed. A task that took a mere 20 minutes promised each of them R3000 upon selling the copper, sufficient to support their families for a fortnight. The men navigated the deserted streets in a worn-out white pick-up truck, laden over the years with kilograms of pilfered copper.

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[This is only an extract of an article that is published in Servamus: January 2024. This article is available for purchase.]

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