Criminals are vandalising Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi network infrastructure and are targeting users in public areas, which is hurting the value the service offers to residents.
The City of Tshwane has recently called on residents to play their part and help keep TshWi-Fi protected to stay connected.
“Play your part by protecting the electronic equipment installed at your hotspots from theft or vandalism,” the city said.
This followed vandalism of electronic equipment at the Babelegi high site, which caused downtime at numerous Tshwane Wi-Fi hotspots.
Tshwane metro spokesperson Goitsemang Molaeng said theft and vandalism of their Wi-Fi network infrastructure have been a particularly big problem in Mamelodi and Soshanguve.
The city previously said vandalism of its infrastructure is a recurring nightmare which affects a myriad of services, including its Wi-Fi service.
The images below show the vandalism which caused the downtime at the Tshwane Wi-Fi hotspots.
Criminals targeting free Wi-Fi users
MyBroadband spoke to Mamelodi residents who rely on Tshwane’s free Wi-Fi service, who said criminals are targeting areas where users congregate to use the service.
One resident explained how criminals drive around the free Wi-Fi areas, looking for individual users or small groups of girls with smartphones.
He said “the tsotsis” drive up to the users, who are typically on their smartphones and not alert, grab their phones, jump back in the car and drive off.
He said criminal activity increases after dark, especially in public spaces where there is not good lighting.
He added that there are seldom any police present at the popular free Wi-Fi spots, which means people have to fend for themselves.
New service provider
On 1 August 2018, the City of Tshwane appointed a new service provider to manage its Wi-Fi operations.
At the time it was a significant step towards restoring the Wi-Fi project to full capacity.
“More than 600 out of a total of 1,051 sites are up and running – which translates to more than 58% of the sites where the Wi-Fi service has been restored,” the city said.
The city added that while it had initially anticipated high sites and hotspots would be live in September, its progress was stymied by a number of factors beyond its control.
“Some of the problems we encountered were due to non-connectivity at the Wapadrand substation that burnt down about two months ago,” it said.
“Theft and vandalism of our infrastructure in places like Mamelodi, Soshanguve, and other areas have also largely contributed to the delay.”
The City of Tshwane said it views the provision of free Wi-Fi as a basic service.