On Monday, three suspects in Camperdown, KwaZulu-Natal and two others in Rustenburg, North West, were arrested in connection with electricity theft, a fight that South African state-owned power utility, Eskom, has been trying to combat through active campaign initiatives.

Electricity theft combated through community participation

The utility said that the arrests follow collaborative investigations between the SA Police Service, the Hawks and other law enforcement agencies to clamp down on criminals who are stealing electricity cables and other steel components.

In addition to government services, the local community played an active role in surveying the area and reporting any suspicious acts of electrical theft and vandalism.

Equipment in question

The suspects involved in the KwaZulu-Natal activities were allegedly targeting electricity transformers for their oil and copper content, while in Rustenburg they had stolen large amounts of aluminium overhead conductors.

[quote]The two suspects in Rustenburg were caught in the act whilst trying to steal an aluminium conductor that Eskom security had used as bait.

“Last month the Circuit Court in Kroonstad in the northern Free State sentenced a cable theft syndicate to a total of 140 years behind bars on charges of theft and contravention of the Organised Crime Act,” the utility said in a company statement.

Continuous efforts

Eskom stated: “We are taking steps to combat cable theft in collaboration with the joint industry working group formed by Eskom, Transnet, Telkom, the South African Police Service, the National Prosecuting Authority, Business Against Crime and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry.”

Eskom urges all South Africans to support Operation Khanyisa, a national partnership aimed at fighting electricity theft, by reporting electricity theft to the Crime Line by sending anonymous tip-offs via SMS to 32211 (R1/SMS).