Faizel Patel – 28/10/2020
Vodacom KwaZulu Natal is fighting back by ramping up efforts against criminals who have been targeting base stations in the province.
The mobile service operator says over 70 incidents of vandalism is reported on a monthly basis.
It says cellular base stations are the only form of connectivity available to many communities, and when criminals target these base stations to steal diesel, power cables, batteries and even radio equipment, they can cut off thousands of people.
Vodacom’s Chris Lazarus says there has been a dramatic rise in the number of base station vandalism and battery theft cases across the province.
“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. 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 says it is working closely with law enforcement agencies and security companies to arrest thieves for prosecution.
“The region has embarked on a new network resilience upgrade programme, investing almost R200m install a range of solutions including container claddings and surveillance cameras.”
In August, a man who stole equipment from mobile phone base stations in the Western Cape, was handed a 500-year prison sentence by a regional court in Cape Town.
Vodacom has appealed to members of the community to report any incidents of battery theft or site vandalism.