Stolen cables to cost City Power R15 million to replace

A cable theft syndicate gained access to the underground tunnels where they made off with dozens of copper cables.

Picture: SAPS.

JOHANNESBURG - City Power has told Eyewitness News it will cost the utility around R15 million to replace the cables that were stolen underground in the CBD in an incident which has left several businesses in the dark and traffic lights on the blink.

Authorities believe a cable theft syndicate struck again over the weekend, gaining access to the underground tunnels where they made off with dozens of copper cables.

Emergency services extinguished a blaze underground at one spot in the early hours of Sunday morning after a syndicate set fire to the cables and cut off pieces of copper.

City Power's Sol Masolo said: “Normally, when they burn the cable, they’re trying to make sure that the power would trip and once it trips, the cable becomes safer for them to cut.”

Masolo says the criminals gained access through a small manhole, squeezing their way into the underground tunnels where they spent hours collecting the expensive copper.

It's not the first time that cable thieves have used this daring method to get their hands on copper, but it’s not used very often as it's extremely dangerous given the toxic chemicals that are released in the process.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)