Pelican Park residents have been left in the dark – not by load shedding but by thieves and vandals.
The City says it is facing a R200 000 repair bill for the more than 100 street lights that have been damaged in Pelican Park.
It is offering to pay R5000 rewards for information that leads to the arrest of the culprits as well as those installing illegal connections. The reward also applies if the information leads to the confiscation of stolen or illegal goods or the handing-in of illegal or stolen goods.
Stealing, destroying or tampering with essential electricity infrastructure is a priority crime that can put perpetrators behind bars for up to 30 years.
Criminal syndicates were often behind electricity theft, said Phindile Maxiti, the mayoral committee member for energy and climate change.
Electricity infrastructure was often no sooner repaired than it was destroyed or stolen again, he said.
“It is unacceptable that residents and the community must suffer. The City strongly condemns this trend and urges the public to take ownership.”
He urged the public to report crime and suspicious activity to the authorities.
Pelican Park resident Naima Salie believes criminals are stealing and destroying the street lights so they can move around undetected at night.
“Gangsterism has become an issue in the area, and when the lights are out they can get away easier. In recent months, it became worse – people are being robbed on their way to school and work because the streets are dark. Druggies are also stealing wires and vandalising the infrastructure to sell it for a quick high.”
Maanie Ganief, the New Horizons Neighbourhood Watch chairman and safety and security committee member for Ward 67, said poor lighting made their job harder, especially during winter.
“Not all lights are vandalised, but it still makes it difficult for us. We are waiting on a meeting with Sub-council 18 to address the issue.”
The vandalism would not be so bad if the City put the wiring half a meter underground when fixing the street lights, he said.
“That would definitely help to minimise the vandalism and theft because it will take more of an effort for the criminals to get to the cables, and if they do try to steal they would make a lot of noise which residents will hear to deter them.”
The City said it was busy with an underground cabling programme but did not confirm whether Pelican Park was yet part of it.