from NJABULO BUTHELEZI in Durban
DURBAN – VODACOM is investing R200 million (US$12,2 million) to curb the rampant vandalism by organised crime syndicates in the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) region.
The investment is on a new network resilience upgrade programme and installation of a range of solutions, including container claddings and surveillance cameras.
Vodacom is losing R80 million annually through vandalism.
Criminals target base stations to steal diesel, power cables, batteries and radio equipment.
The region is losing R6,5 million per month.
Chris Lazarus, Managing Executive for Vodacom KZN, noted a dramatic rise in the number of base station vandalism and battery theft cases across the province.
It has registered 70 cases per month since the start of 2020, effectively 840 incidents of vandalism per annum.
“What we are finding through our investigations is that this crime is being perpetuated by organised syndicates who find new ways to commit this type of crime,” Lazarus said.
“We lose millions of Rands worth of damage to our base stations annually because of theft and vandalism. But more importantly than the monetary impact, criminals are cutting off entire communities.”
Vodacom KZN has been driving engagements with communities, councillors, induna, amakhosi and educational campaigns.
“The clear message that we want to send to criminals is that if you target our base stations, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted,” Lazarus said.
In August, a regional court handed a man who stole equipment from mobile phone base stations in the Western Cape a 500-year prison sentence.
– CAJ News