TAPS in Thulamahashe near Bushbuckridge have run dry after criminals stole electric cables, leaving the engine for the water pump malfunctioning on Wednesday night.

Two security guards on duty at the reservoir were surprised by a group of criminals, who pointed firearms at them and tied them up with ropes and wires at about 11pm.

"We were all surprised that the township was without water but we soon discovered that criminals had attacked the guards at the local reservoir," Mhala policespokesperson InspectorRobert Makhubele said yesterday.

He said no arrests had been made and anyone with information could call the Mhala police on 013-773- 0331.

The other guards who reported for duty yesterday morning were shocked to find their colleagues tied up with ropes.

They called the police and untied their colleagues, who were taken to hospital to be treated for shock.

Makhubeleconfirmed that a large quantity of electric cables had been stolen but could not immediately reveal the estimated damages of the theft.

Thulamahashe resident Winsey Sekgobela said she was thankful that the Bushbuckridge municipality had immediately sent out water tankers to supply thetownship.

"This is not the first time that thieves have stolen cables, leaving us without water. Something urgent needs to be done," Sekgobela said.

Meanwhile,police recently arrested 12 people who had been transporting stolen copper wires in two minibuses on the N4 highway.

The suspects were remanded in custody when they appeared in the local magistrate's court and are expected to appear again in two weeks' time.