South African operator combats cable crime

South African operator combats cable crime

The third-biggest South African operator, Telkom, has released an announcement claiming it has helped to win convictions for cable theft and infrastructure vandalism at various operations across the country.

It says its Telkom Security and Investigation Team has managed to significantly reduce infrastructure-related crime at Telkom facilities, adding that the community has also played a significant role through tip-offs to police and Telkom reporting hotlines. 

From July 2017 to December 2023, over 3,000 suspects were apprehended and cases opened against 2,549 individuals.

This may be encouraging, but is also a reminder of how appealing some assets can be to thieves and how much work and expense are involved in protecting those assets.

The Economic Sabotage of Critical Infrastructure (ESCI) Forum, a joint working group between Telkom, power company Eskom, commuter rail service group Prasa and  rail, port and pipeline company Transnet, has estimated that the economic damage caused by copper theft costs the country R7 billion (US$371.6 million) every year, with a wider economic impact claimed to be closer to R187 billion (US$ 9.9 billion)

Telkom says it costs the company tens of millions of rand every year to replace stolen or vandalised cables, as well as batteries stolen from cellphone towers. But preventing theft is costly too. Telkom budgets even larger amounts for security to protect its assets.

It's not just about Telkom of course. Late last year we reported that South African operator Vodacom was planning to roll out measures to curb rising battery theft and vandalism at base station sites in Free State and Northern Cape provinces. Rival operator MTN said earlier the same year that it was investing heavily to combat site vandalism and battery theft

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