Salga: Metal theft and vandalism is an uphill battle

Salga told Parliament vandalised and stolen infrastructure worth over R440bn has been replaced since 2011.

FILE: Broken pylons in Lenasia where power cables were stolen. Picture: Faizel Patel via Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - The South African Local Government Association (Salga) and police have admitted it's difficult battling rampant metal theft and vandalism.

Salga and police officials addressed Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation on Tuesday.

The association says since 2011, vandalised and stolen infrastructure worth over R440 billion has been replaced.

Salga's head of Water and Sanitation, William Moraka, says it spends about R5 billion every year on replacing stolen cables.

Moraka says government has to take some of the blame, because illegal water connections and cable theft can be linked to a lack of efficient service delivery.

"Sometimes there is the inability by our politicians to deliver the promises they make to communities that in our own opinion we've actually observed as an emerging issue."

The police service says they've had only few successes in the fight against cable theft and vandalism because it's difficult to prosecute and convict offenders.

Salga also believes some of the service providers it has employed have been the culprits involved in copper theft and vandalism.

Moraka asked community members to report and name and shame those involved.

The Western Cape is reported to have the least cases of water interruptions at 22 percent, while Mpumalanga has the highest number of incidents at 77 percent.