According to residents this is the thieves’ “biggest haul” yet.
CASSANDRA residents were left fuming after a 102-metre medium-voltage cable was stolen in Samaria Road in the early hours of Monday morning, leaving the Kimberley suburb without power.
Residents are also seething after the police allegedly ignored their calls after the suspected cable thieves were “caught in the act” at approximately 1.30am.
It is believed that the thieves gained access to the cables by cutting through the railway line fence before digging up the cables.
Sol Plaatje Municipality spokesperson Sello Matsie pointed out that it was costly to replace the stolen cables.
“The cable costs approximately R1,200 per metre plus 2 x R10,000 for joints. Labour and transport also still needs to be added to that,” Matsie said.
Although Matsie could not give time lines as to when the problem would be resolved, he confirmed that municipal teams were busy with repairs.
Residents said that they realised something was wrong when the lights went out. They then called on their neighbourhood watch team to investigate.
One of the residents said that a drone that they were using spotted at least seven of the suspected thieves hiding in the veld. They then called the police
“The suspects could have been caught in the act. While waiting for the police to arrive, we saw a police van passing by and flagged it down and it stopped. We explained to the two police officers, who seemed very tired, why we had stopped them. They told us that there was nothing that they could do and just drove on,” said the frustrated resident.
It is believed that the police only arrived in Cassandra on Monday morning at around 8am – to apparently take statements and do inspections. They reportedly found around 22 metres of the cable lying next to the railway line and seized it.
Following a number of previous cases of cable theft in the suburb, a Cassandra resident indicated that Monday’s incident was the “biggest take” for the thieves, who “seemed to know exactly what they were doing”.
The resident said that he had earlier passed people digging trenches in the area but did not “suspect anything” as it was “during the day”.
“It’s always confusing, but we cannot ask the people who they are or where they are from when we see them digging during the day. We only realised that it was theft when their plans went wrong,” he said.
He added that it always becomes a “back-and-forth” issue whenever they report cable theft in the area because the municipality and the police inform them that it is private property that belongs to a local mine.
“We are left without electricity and, on top of that, our electrical appliances get damaged due to this ongoing crime in the area and the police continue to fail us,” they complained.
The Kimberley police and Ekapa Mining indicated that they would comment on the matter on Tuesday.