Days of Night

Copper cableI’m was in two minds about whether to write this post of not. Power cuts in South Africa have become a event of norm – I don’t even bother to reset the clock on my stove anymore as there is likely to be a power trip/cut/prolonged outage around the corner that will helpfully unset it again. South African power cut causes: 1) Eskom doesn’t have enough power to go around and they have to impose ‘rolling blackouts’; 2) cable theft syndicates vandalise and steel copper cabling for neighbourhood substations. In the past week alone my area of Centurion has had two of the number 2s; the closest substation, quote ‘exploded’, unquote due to cable theft. Last night cable thieves struck again and I was woken up at 1am by the low battery tone on the baby monitor – that’s just rude. I phoned Tshwane to report the power failure and was told that technicians would be dispatched in 8-10 hours, giving the thieves ample time to plunder to their hearts’ content.

Cable Thieves

The naughty corner queue

Syndicates are pretty clued up on how to steal the cable without electrocuting themselves in the process – in and out; leaving the joint in a state of disarray for the local municipality to pick up the pieces. I really do feel for Tshwane – their Facebook page rating says it all – the community is disappointed. It’s like bringing home a substandard report card to your parents. That look is enough to shame you into going to your room, without being told and without dinner. Who buys all this copper cable I wonder? One site quotes that the losses cost Tshwane R30 million a year – considerable moula.

It is and it isn’t the municipality’s fault, but enough is enough. Fool them twice, thrice, four times….you get the idea – shame on them. It’s about time government took some affirmative action against these syndicates. Substations ‘apparently’ have security systems and guards, but where are they? It is so easy to bribe the underpaid night watchperson; or perhaps the gangs are packing serious heat and it isn’t really worth the guards’ while to get shot. If Tshwane were to employ 24 hour armed response, based permanently on site and equipped with sub-machine guns (or at least high calibre shotguns) to take out trespassers, they would then be the dog’s nuts. Perhaps a very public hand chops (or two) – no morphine – just a salt dip for the bleeding stump to follow the act. The thieves will at least have their 2 seconds of fame on the SABC news. Sounds cruel, but if the gang members get a tap on the wrist or some cushy jail time, they’re going to go right back and do it all again. The current measures just aren’t working. Thieves have even stolen the power cable which services the local Telkom exchange – there’s been no phone line or internet at home for over a week (Telkom is relying on Tshwane to replace it…enough said).

This week I equipped myself for the worst. I went and bought a big, noisy generator. Large enough to run my geyser – nothing worse than a cold shower in winter – and all the switchgear so that I can plug it into my house’s power network safely and legally. It cost the better part of an arm and leg, but the emergency candles are running out, and it’s getting wearisome wiping one’s ass by candlelight.

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