The Grassy Park community is pleading with the authorities to clamp down on the theft of water meters in the area.
Thieves took 15 water meters in the Parkwood and Grassy Park area last week, causing damage to property and leaving residents without water (“Copper thieves target water meters”, Southern Mail, June 9).
A collaborative approach to curbing these crimes has been suggested by the neighbourhood watches who are urging residents to join them on patrols and also share information about criminal activities in their streets. Police are encouraging residents to identify and describe perpetrators as accurately as possible in order for them to make an arrest.
Whilma Jethro, of Diaz Village, in Grassy Park, said four water meters had been stolen in 3rd Avenue, Grassy Park, on Friday July 30, and three meters earlier that same week.
Ms Jethro said the watch has various chat groups where residents can post if they see suspicious activity in their street.
However, she said, the main concern is that more people are needed to join the watch. “Only a few of us cannot do this alone. The community needs to join the watch or form a street committee. We need people to monitor their area, for example those who don’t work, can perhaps do night watch. If there are five people, one can watch between midnight and 1am and the rest can cover the rest of the night.”
Ms Jethro said if the numbers of members increase it will be easier for them to curb crime.
“It is free to join the neighbourhood watch and all we need to do is first screen them, before they join. We have fundraising events to raise funds for petrol for the patrollers.”
Grassy Park police station commander Colonel Dawood Laing agreed that the community must “come on board” to curb the water meter crime. “Four water meters had been stolen in 3rd Avenue, at 4.30am. “We have been liaising with neighbourhood watches and communicate via group chats.”
Colonel Laing said in order for the police to do their job people need to be vigilant and provide a proper description of the perpetrators.
He also advises them to report places dealing in illegal operations, for example, where the copper is being sold to. “We have searched second-hand dealers and scrap yards in our area but nothing has been found. We suspect they are dealing either at illegal scrap yards or outside of our area.”
Asked if there had been any suspects, Colonel Laing said: “We believe (the perpetrators) are the homeless people who sleep close to the police station. They are operating sporadically. They are opportunistic when they see the water meters outside.”
Colonel Laing said residents should be aware that many of the thefts had been occurring between 3am and 6am.
Councillor William Akim said 15 water meters had been stolen in a part of the Parkwood/Grassy Park area. “We need to find out where they (perpetrators) are taking the meters,” he said.
Mr Akim pleaded with scrapyard staff not to buy the stolen water meters. “It costs the City of Cape Town millions of rands to replace the water meters, money that could have been spent on other projects. Community members must please be aware and report any offenders by calling 086 010 3089.”
While the authorities are trying to track down the water meter thieves, the community has been proactive in Kestrel Way, Grassy Park, where residents have been securing the water meters by filling the area around it with concrete.
Resident Shuroot Abrahams said his water meter was stolen two weeks ago but altogether there had been seven water meters stolen in that week around Kestrel, Teal and Hawk roads.
He said after reporting his water meter stolen, he reported it to the City who came to replace the meter.
He encouraged his neighbours to secure the meters in the ground by pouring concrete around it.
Another resident called Southern Mail about her water meter being stolen on Sunday July 24, in Fayker Road, Grassy Park, and said she had been without water.
Xanthea Limberg, Mayoral committee member for water and waste, said the stolen meter was replaced on July 27.
“Due to the increase in stolen meters over the past year, the City is no longer installing brass water meters as these have scrap value. However, due to the number of meters in service, it will take some time before all meters are replaced with plastic ones.
“Not only does the theft of water meters result in water wastage and inconvenience to residents, but it also drains City resources. On average, it costs approximately R2 600 excluding Vat to replace a 15mm conventional meter and approximately R3 000 excluding Vat to replace a 20mm conventional meter,” said Ms Limberg.
The community is advised that if a water meter is stolen, it should be reported immediately to the City of Cape Town to obtain a reference number via one of the channels listed below to arrange for a replacement.
l Online www.capetown.gov.za/servicerequests
l Email email@example.com
l SMS 31373 (maximum 160 characters. Standard rates apply)
l Call 0860 103 089
l Visit a City walk-in centre (see www.capetown.gov.za/facilities to find the one closest to you)
Ms Limberg said: “The City should visit the property for an inspection within 24 hours, and if the meter is confirmed as needing replacement, this should be done within a further 24 hours in most cases.
“We condemn these attacks of vandalism and theft of public infrastructure and encourage residents to report any information related to the theft of water meters to SAPS, to assist with investigations and hold the responsible individuals accountable.”
To report the theft residents can call 10 111 and request a reference number.