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MBOMBELA - Vodacom Mpumalanga has well over a thousand base stations in that province, many of which are in isolated areas. These base stations are increasingly being targeted for theft and vandalism, which can leave entire communities without communication and causes millions of rands worth of damage. Vodacom has ramped up the fight against this criminal activity, implementing new measures to make sure that the thieves are caught and prosecuted. The company has also partnered with members of the community to stem the tide vandalism in its base stations.
Cellular base stations are the only form of connectivity available to many communities, and when criminals target these base stations to steal diesel, power cables and mainly batteries, they can cut off hundreds if not thousands of people. We repeatedly see situations where people can't make emergency calls and are put in danger by these criminals and sooner or later these criminals will cost someone’s life.
Commenting on this, Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive: for Vodacom Mpumalanga region commented:
“It is estimated that local cellphone network providers lose hundreds millions of rands worth of damage to its base stations annually as a result of theft and vandalism which ultimately impacts the cost of mobile services. But more importantly than the monetary impact, criminals are cutting off entire communities.”
Each theft incident can result in the network in that area being down for days, and can severely impact businesses as well as anyone relying on the internet to study. It can also cause ecological damage with vandalism resulting in diesel spillage. Vodacom, however, is fighting back. Vodacom has ramped up the fight against this criminal activity, and is working closely with law enforcement agencies and security companies to arrest thieves for prosecution. We also appeal to members of the community to report this form of crime to police.
Jiyane said, "The number one line of defense is the local community. We urge anyone who sees suspicious activity around our base stations to report it to the police. It's in everyone's best interest to act before their signal is cut off."
Vodacom Mpumalanga has been working closely with the law-enforcement authorities and the renewed security programme has already resulted in a significant number of arrests. Our efforts, working with our communities, to safeguard our base stations sites are yielding positive results.
We’d like to appeal to ordinary members of the community to report incidents of battery theft or site vandalism by calling our toll free number: 0822419952 or SAPS on 10111.
"The clear message that we want to send to criminals is that if you target our base stations, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted" concludes Jiyane.