Cable thieves in Merafong may never get caught- Here’s Why

Issued by Ina Cilliers MPL – DA Constituency Head- Merafong
13 Apr 2022 in Press Statements

The crime wave is continuing unabated in Merafong despite police in the area being aware that the community is in the grip of a crime spree. Since Sunday several more instances of cable theft have occurred in various parts of Merafong like Losberg Avenue, Baards and Tafelberg Street in Carletonville. This is very concerning as residents are left without electricity for weeks on end before the cables are replaced and now to add to their woes the community also has to endure load-shedding. Residents all over Merafong are continuing to suffer in the dark, without hot water, without security, and without power and lights.

During an IDP workshop earlier this week, DA councillors asked questions regarding the scourge of cable theft, including the number of cases reported to SAPS so far, and the progress made in investigations.

During this workshop it emerged that:

• Municipal officials have not reported any of these cable theft cases to the SAPS, so no case numbers exist. Officials lament the time and administrative burden of reporting a case. It often requires whole mornings to be spent at the SAPS and officials cannot spare the time.

• If no case is reported, and no case number exists, there is no mandate for the SAPS to investigate these cases. No investigations, no arrests, no convictions.

• In the absence of a case number, Merafong is unable to institute an insurance claim. In effect, residents are paying twice for each cable theft. Once, by proxy, for the insurance premium, and then a second time because the cable, if replaced, cannot be claimed from insurance, but will be paid for out of municipal coffers.

• Local SAPS, including the station commander, cannot be unaware of these cases either. All of the incidents are reported on a community safety WhatsApp group, which include SAPS leaders, ward councillors and CPF members.

Unfortunately, this vicious circle is being enabled in part by the management systems of the SAPS. Station Commanders are caught in a classic catch-22 situation- spiralling case numbers may lead to more resources in the medium term, but it also makes the station look bad in terms of crime prevention. SAPS officials are therefore constantly tempted to under-report to avoid a negative reaction from the provincial management.

After seeing our previous statement, one SAPS official reacted angrily, accusing the DA of lying and unlawfully leaking information from a CPF meeting and threatening to stop collaborating on the CPF platform. This is a very worrying development as residents rely on CPFs to keep safe.

It is very important to the DA in Merafong that there is a strong and healthy relationship among community members, councillors, police and CPFs. However, the residents cannot suffer and pay the ultimate price because “systems” keep our officials free from accountability.

Last night a large group of thieves attempted to steal the last piece of cable still connected to the Bloukrans sub-station in Carletonville. Collaboration between community members, private security firms and the police foiled the attempt, for now. But they will be back.

See pictures here, here, here and here

Should this crime spree continue, many livelihoods will be put on the line, adding to the ever-increasing rate of unemployment in the province.

I will ask formal written questions in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to determine each cable theft case number, the status of the investigation, and arrest and conviction rates. We are not trying to berate and belittle any officials in the media. If it’s a system problem, it can be fixed. We are working towards a safe environment for all of Merafong.

Anyone sharing this interest is welcome to assist. Residents of Merafong are urged to remain vigilant and to report any suspicious behaviour to the police and their local CPF groups without fail. Let’s work together to keep Merafong safe.