Eldorado Park community members praying for the safety of overnight patrollers. Picture: Isaac Seun
By Lerato Ngwenya
After struggling for years with inconsistent power supply due to cable theft, the community of Eldorado Park, in Soweto, Johannesburg, have rallied to protect cables and other infrastructure. The community has decided to patrol with private security companies every night to protect its own infrastructure.
Eldorado Park is a community that’s plagued not only by cable theft, but by policing issues. With recent reports showing that the area contributed 17% of Gauteng crime statistics. In 2021, a total of 9220 crimes were reported compared to 8881 crimes this year, making Eldorado Park the eighth worse precinct in Gauteng.
The initiative came after a substation was burned in April this year.
Isaac Seun, community and a volunteer patrol member, said the community saw it fit to rally and bring resources together to try and protect the infrastructure, particularly cables.
“This was to ensure that if there is no load shedding scheduled around the area, they (community) still have the cables and infrastructure when electricity is supplied. " said Seun.
“Eldorado Park is more in the dark than in the light, and this is because of cable theft and vandalism. I think what we need to rally is more support, because we are using our own resources, we are using our own cars and we are making ourselves victims, we know the that the perpetrators are gunslingers. They are targeting us because they see we are targeting them, at the end of the day, it is a risk that is worth taking,” said Ward 17 Councillor Dwain Ponsonby.
Everyday, following praying, the patrol starts at 6pm and continues to 5am the next morning. There is a roster to ensure that everyone partakes in this initiative and that those who are employed are able to go rest before working the following day.
Through the daily patrol, three scrapyards around the community were shut down, where it was believed that stolen cables were being sold by perpetrators. It is believed that the owners of the scrapyards were not even from Eldorado Park.
According to Ponsonby, the help of the South African Police Service (SAPS) is non-existent in their community.
“SAPS claims that the issue of infrastructure vandalism and cable theft is the responsibility of Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) and City Power and not theirs, hence we have decided to take the matter in our hands and protect our children’s legacy.”
City Power, the electricity provider in Johannesburg, said that its infrastructure in the Eldorado Park area had been under attack by criminals targeting copper cables, with more than 10 underground cables stolen last week alone. One of those was a 25-metre cable in the Eldorado Park area, which has since been replaced.
Through the patrol of the community and the private security, on Tuesday day, City Power confirmed the arrest of one person, who was employed by a contractor working at the Eldorado Park sub-station, for cable theft.
The utility’s manager Isaac Mangena said: "The employee had three copper cables in the bakkie. He was arrested by the security. In total, we had about 10 underground copper cables stolen in the last two days in three separate incidents around the Eldorado Park area. We have always maintained that we don’t rule out the involvement of our staff or even contractors.”