Residents suspect that a crime syndicate is at work after the small town of Warrenton was plunged into darkness during a cable theft attempt at the Eskom sub-station earlier this week.
RESIDENTS suspect that a crime syndicate is at work after the small town of Warrenton was plunged into darkness during a cable theft attempt at an Eskom sub-station earlier this week.
A group of men armed with various weapons entered an Eskom sub-station in Warrenton on Tuesday and severely assaulted two security guards, before later fleeing the scene after being disturbed.
The Warrenton SAPS are investigating cases of assault GBH and damaging/tampering with essential infrastructure in connection with the incident.
Northern Cape police spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Sergio Kock said the suspects cut a large amount of copper cables, apparently with the intention to steal the copper cable.
Kock said the men were, however, disturbed and fled the scene.
“The two security guards were transported to a hospital in Kimberley for medical treatment. The vandalised copper cables were found at the scene. Most of Warrenton was left without electricity,” said Kock.
The incident follows another case where a transformer in Ward 4 was also vandalised, leaving the residents without a proper supply of water for more than a week.
Some residents had to fetch water from an overflowing water tank, due to the water not being able to be pumped from the tank.
Water and electricity supply were only restored to the affected area on Wednesday afternoon.
Magareng Local Municipality spokesperson Thapelo Jacobs confirmed that the local authority was faced with increasing acts of vandalism that initially affected the station area and parts of Ward 4.
He explained that the lack of electricity resulted in the water treatment plant not being able to function.
Local residents suspect foul play as they said the transformer was tampered with by someone who had the right equipment and a long stepladder to reach it.
Community leader Jan Louw said the transformer was very high up and could only have been tampered with by someone who knew exactly what they were doing.
“The job was made easier for the vandals by first unscrewing the transformer, then the others came to strip the cables,” said Louw.
“There is a high possibility of collusion. This is the work of a syndicate.”
Louw highlighted that community members having to fetch water from the water tank is a “disaster waiting to happen”.
“Some of the community members allow children to fetch the water or are accompanied by children. What if the walls of the tank crack or they trip and fall into the muddy water?
“Drowning is very possible because some of the children are too young to see the danger. The children also use the pooled water as an opportunity to cool off … It’s very dangerous.”
Louw added that the situation has become better for Ward 4 residents after a contractor volunteered to assist the municipality in fixing the pipe that supplies them with water.
“It’s worse in Ikhutseng as they have not been getting a proper allocation of water for a very long time. They are used to fetching water from schools and boreholes and being assisted by neighbours with vehicles.
“The residents who have been surviving best are Ward 5, which is the CBD, as they benefit from having a reservoir as they are closer to the municipality.”