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Thousands of water meters stolen

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“At the beginning of this year, the electricity line to the Gogga Pump Station as well as the one to the West End Cemetery was stolen for the umpteenth time. Each time we replace the line, it is stolen again."

Seen here is where a water meter was stolen. Picture: Danie van der Lith

THE SOL Plaatje Municipality has expressed concern at a growing trend where thousands of residential water meters are being stolen across the city.

Sol Plaatje municipal spokesperson Sello Matsie said yesterday that townships in particular were being targeted.

“We believe the meters are being stolen by people who are trying to access the copper wire in the meters.”

Matsie said that the theft was costing the municipality vast sums of money, not only in terms of the cost of replacing the meter but also in water losses.

“Often water is left to run down the road for days on end after the meters have been stolen. The saddest part of all is that the money the thieves get from selling the copper wire is not much at all.”

Matsie added that theft of municipal property in the city was widespread.

“In the past, the fence around the West End Cemetery was stolen, while manhole covers are also stolen on a regular basis. This is a problem because people have been injured when they fell into the manhole.”

According to Matsie the theft of copper wire from electricity sub-stations had been less severe recently.

“The municipality has spent a lot of money trying to secure sub-stations but there is only so far that we can go in doing this. There are hundreds of small sub-stations throughout the city.”

He pointed out that in this instance, not only were residents inconvenienced by the theft, which often led to power outages, but the thieves were putting their lives at risk.

“At the beginning of this year, the electricity line to the Gogga Pump Station as well as the one to the West End Cemetery was stolen for the umpteenth time. Each time we replace the line, it is stolen again.

“Residents must remember that replacing all the infrastructure that is damaged by vandalism or stolen costs a huge amount of money, and this money comes from ratepayers. This isn’t only our problem as the municipality, but the problem of every resident and we appeal to everyone to be vigilant.”

He also called on scrap metal dealers to report any suspicious person selling what could be municipal property. “Clearly there is a market for these goods, otherwise thieves wouldn’t be tempted to steal them.”

Regarding the stolen water meters, Matsie urged residents to be on the lookout for any suspicious activity, as well as to report leaking meters.

“While the municipal by-laws allow municipal employees to access residents’ meters, residents have the right to stop anyone wanting to access their yards and to seek clarity from the municipality. In most cases, if the municipality is undertaking a particular project, we will inform residents.”