Brazen cable theft is hurting South Africa’s infrastructure

The theft of copper cables remains a widespread problem in South Africa, resulting in service outages for ADSL customers as well as power outages for many citizens.

Thieves have also become increasingly brazen, stealing from substations and telecommunications infrastructure during broad daylight.

Speaking to the South Coast Herald about a recent group of thieves that were caught red-handed stealing copper cables from the Eskom Sezela substation, Scottburgh SAPS communications officer Captain Adam Francis said these crimes are negatively affecting residents.

“Theft and damage to Eskom, Telkom and Transnet/Prasa cables and infrastructure have serious implications,” Francis said.

“It was shocking to see this happening in broad daylight,” a witness told the South Coast Herald.

“It is because of thefts like this that we are subjected to power outages such as the one experienced recently when we were without power for almost a week.”

Telkom turning off ADSL

Copper theft was amongst the factors which influenced Telkom’s decision to decommission its ADSL network in favour of newer technologies such as fibre and LTE.

The older infrastructure is far more costly to maintain and the rampant cable theft only serves to exacerbate the operational costs of the ADSL network.

Subsequently, ADSL customers who live in areas with fibre and LTE coverage are being contacted and requested to switch from ADSL, with Telkom stopping repairs and cable replacements in many parts of its copper network.

This has led to a steady decline in the number of ADSL customers across the country.

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Brazen cable theft is hurting South Africa’s infrastructure