Numerous criminals have been arrested in two separate incidents for stealing cellphone tower batteries.
In the first incident, the South African Police Service (SAPS) and security officers arrested a syndicate in the Free State.
The syndicate was cornered in Tweeling in the Free State while in possession of 32 cellphone tower batteries which were stolen from mobile networks.
In the second incident, a man with seven MTN cellphone tower batteries was arrested at his home in Nelspruit thanks to a tip-off.
The man who was arrested is set to appear in court today.
Criminals wrecking cellphone networks
MTN recently warned that there is a concerning rise in battery theft and vandalism at cell phone towers across South Africa.
The mobile operator recorded 125 incidents of battery theft in a single week, illustrating the scale of the problem.
MTN said this level of crime requires a stronger and more concerted drive to clamp down on syndicates and opportunistic criminals.
“A greater fightback is needed to avoid the costs of replacing batteries and fixing damaged infrastructure being passed on to consumers,” MTN said.
Community help needed
While battery theft is a countrywide problem committed by increasingly brazen and sophisticated criminal syndicates, MTN believes the war can be won if everyone works together.
The operator has beefed up security significantly and has achieved important successes through the adoption of a “360-degree” action plan.
However, recent incidents have become increasingly violent, with some guards being abducted, assaulted, and shot at.
“The best way to start fighting back is for anyone spotting something suspicious on a site to report it immediately. There are various tip-off lines to call,” Paul said.
MTN will provide monetary reward mechanisms for information which helps bring these criminals to justice.
People can report battery theft by calling the MTN Fraud Line on 083 123 7867 or the Bidvest Protea Coin Hotline on 086 101 1721.
The photos below come from the latest arrests related to cellular network battery theft.