JRA alarm at increase in cable theft, vandalism of traffic lights across metro

A traffic light on Mooi Street in Johannesburg has been pushed over so its electrical cables could be stolen.
A traffic light on Mooi Street in Johannesburg has been pushed over so its electrical cables could be stolen.
Image: Thulani Mbele

The Johannesburg Roads Agency (JRA) this week said it was “facing an enormous battle” in trying to save the city's traffic lights and signal poles from theft and vandalism, with 26 intersections affected in January alone.

The JRA raised concern at the “alarming increase” in the theft and vandalism of the lights, especially in the past year.

It said that over the past four years, 531 of the city's 2,028 signalised traffic intersections have been vandalised, costing R28.1m to replace. 

“In the past year [January 2022 to January 2023], this figure increased by 172, with January 2023 alone reflecting theft and vandalism at 26 signalised intersections.

“The hardest hit area [is] the inner city [which accounts] for 60% of cases,” JRA said.  

Thugs were using load-shedding as a cover to steal copper wire at the intersections without fear of electrocution, JRA added.

Targeted hotspots include:

Inner city:

  • M1 and M2 on and off ramp intersections;
  • Wemmer Pan Road in Rosettenville, one of the city's busiest transport nodes as it connects to the N17, M2 East, M2 west;
  • Wemmer Jubilee Road, and North Road; and
  • Commissioner and Main roads, Booysens and Nebber roads.

In Soweto, Chris Hani, Rand Show, Immink and Koma roads are the hardest hit while in Roodepoort, intersections such as Goldman Street and Ninth Avenue, John Vorster Drive and Die Ou Pad Road, CR Swart Drive and Ouklip Road are targeted.

JRA acting CEO Louis Nel said theft and vandalism “not only disrupt the working of  signals which are essential services, but also jeopardise public safety”.

“The result is a negative drain on the city's economy with traffic congestion and unproductive, frustrated commuters as well as a possible increase in collisions.

“The very furniture intended to prevent accidents ends up being sold to illegal scrap metal dealers for almost nothing,” he said.

JRA said it was working with City Power, JMPD, SAPS and security companies “to ensure a more effective response” to the issue.


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