Massive Outages Triggered by Vandalism and Theft
Recent weeks have seen residents of Randburg’s suburbs suffering from constant outages, courtesy of vandalism and theft from local substations. These substations, jointly operated by City Power and Eskom, are responsible for powering a majority of the local area.
The Growing Concern Over Infrastructure Protection
Local Councillor and Shadow MMC for Water and Power, Nicole van Dyk, has raised concerns about the spate of theft and vandalism, urging Eskom to fortify their infrastructure. These appeals were driven by the incessant power interruptions following the vandalism of the Randburg substation and subsequent theft of live cables.
Confirmation of Theft During Load-shedding
Isaac Mangena, City Power’s spokesperson, confirmed the theft of live cables during load shedding periods. The substation failed to resume service after load-shedding due to stolen cables. “The following day,” he recounted, “we discovered that the transformer oil on the Eskom side [of the substation] had been drained. This resulted in an extended outage.”
Major Theft – 10,000 Litres of Transformer Oil
Amanda Qithi, Eskom’s spokesperson, confirmed the massive theft. “We are aware of the theft of the transformer oil and we’re working on refilling it,” she said. The process, which involves pumping, circulating, and purifying the oil, and then sending a sample to the laboratory for testing, took approximately three days.
Continuous Outages – One Transformer Working
The persistent outages, Van Dyk explained, were due to the fact that only one transformer was currently operational. She said, “Eskom needs to do repairs on their side. They cannot spread the load on other transformers until the second transformer is up and running.” She further highlighted other substations in Windsor and Fontainebleau that had also been vandalised.
An Appeal for Enhanced Infrastructure Protection
Nicole emphasized Eskom’s responsibility in enhancing their security and infrastructure protection, particularly during load-shedding periods. She said, “Eskom needs to improve their security and infrastructure protection, especially during load-shedding.”
Eskom’s Response and Measures
In response to queries about prevention plans for substation vandalism, Amanda Qithi stated that they performed risk assessments to identify hotspot sites, which are then monitored by guards and supported by armed response patrols. “We also partner and collaborate with community members, community security companies, business forums, SAPS and Public Order Policing to try and reduce theft and vandalism of the electricity infrastructure. We constantly investigate alternative measures that will assist us to prevent the theft and vandalism of our equipment.”