R769m spent on SECURITY COSTS

TWO of South Africa's largest state-owned enterprises have spent more than R769million in replacing and guarding infrastructure in the last five financial years.

Last week, Gauteng DA spokesperson Jack Bloom, pictured, revealed that protecting the province's 34 state hospitals will cost government R141million in the present financial year for 1114 guards. There are about 400 hospitals nationally.

Hospitals are not the only ones losing money to security.

Eskom has spent about R86,7million on security and R137,6million on replacing stolen cables. This totalled over R224,3million.

But most alarming is Transnet, which has spent R456,8million on security and R88,1million on replacement costs.

Minister of Public Enterprises Barbara Hogan said: "The protection of copper cables is outsourced in order to enhance the existing physical conventional guarding and other security measures in place."

The amounts were the cost of security of the entire cable network and not only the stolen ones.

But Hogan said the business loss due to the cable theft was a greater monetary loss than the actual replacement cost of the cable.

"Names of companies that are providing security services at Transnet cannot be made public for commercial reasons and to protect the companies involved and their modus operandi from the crime syndicates which operate in South Africa," Hogan said.

Metros are also hard hit by theft.

City of Johannesburg spokesperson Virgil James said it cost the Johannesburg Roads Agency about R500000 in the last financial year in stolen manhole covers.

This is down from R1639766 in the 2006/2007 financial year and R1784128 in the 2007/2008 financial year. South Africa has 284 municipalities, of which six are Metros.

"The amount relating to theft and vandalism on the network cables for the past financial year related to about R16832101 in direct costs for Johannesburg," James said.