Steel thieves down Fordsburg power pylons

An electricity pylon was brought down by steel thieves in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, on August 30 2019.
An electricity pylon was brought down by steel thieves in Fordsburg, Johannesburg, on August 30 2019.
Image: Twitter/Yusuf Abramjee

Eskom technicians were busy with repair work in Fordsburg, south of Johannesburg, on Friday after thieves stole steel components, bringing down an electricity pylon along Main Reef Road.

"Eskom is currently replacing the stolen tower members as part of routine maintenance, and we are also replacing damaged lattice towers with mono poles as part of phasing out the infrastructure that is prone to theft," said the power utility in a statement.

According to Eskom, vandalism has been the main cause of the structure’s collapse.

"Eskom is concerned about the increase of repeated theft and vandalism on the pylons, as experienced with the recent collapse of a transmission tower in the Roodepoort area.

"This does not only compromise the integrity of the network, but also causes prolonged power supply interruptions affecting customers and further posing a serious risk to the public," the statement read.

Eskom said it had increased line and substation inspections in high risk areas in an effort to prevent theft and vandalism of the network.

"It is, however, not feasible to patrol and guard electricity infrastructure on a 24-hour basis given the nature of our operations and asset base."

Eskom cautioned the public to stay clear of the line and to report any suspicious activities, theft or vandalism of electrical infrastructure at a local police station, or to send an anonymous SMS to Crime Line on: 32211 or contact the Eskom toll-free on 0800 112 722. 

According to the power utility, equipment theft "severely" impacts local network performance and causes loss of revenue to Eskom, "but more significantly, [it] leads to loss of life or injury to the public and employees".

"Losses due to conductor theft, cabling and related equipment totalled R105m for the year, involving 5,150 incidents," Eskom said.

This was compared to R46m in March 2018, from 5,251 incidents.