'No one can have it if we can't'

By Heinz de Boer

"If you remove our cables, you had better move all the power from the
area. No-one can have it if we are not allowed to (have electricity)."

This is part of a bizarre threat made to the city after vandals
destroyed a mini substation and totally blacked out a large part of Sea
Cow Lake from Friday. The electricity supply was restored on Tuesday.

A note was left behind holding the city to ransom and threatening more
of the same if the city clamped down on illegal connections and cable theft.

The note threatened that the same would happen if the council did not
allow illegal connections to remain. He said theft would, however,
continue until the socio-economic conditions behind the thefts were

"There is generally rampant theft of electricity and illegal connections
in the Sea Cow Lake area. As fast as we replace these cables they are
stolen again. But unless we police 24 hours a day it will happen.
Wherever there are informal settlements where poor people have not been
provided with electricity the temptation to connect illegally is often
too great for some," he said.

Then there are the professional thieves who have made the wholesale
theft of major electrical lines their business. Armed with chainsaws,
the gangs often target rural or desolate areas where cables run.

* *This article was originally published on page 1 of **Daily News*
<http://www.dailynews.co.za/>* on August 20, 2008 *


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