Some parts of Soweto may be experiencing slower connectivity as a result of Vodacom-based stations being increasingly targeted for theft and vandalism.
According to Vodacom, its base stations in Soweto are being targeted by organised crime syndicates, with over one hundred cases of vandalism since the start of 2020.
In most cases, the theft has resulted in significant site downtime, leaving entire communities in Soweto with no connectivity and has caused millions of rands worth of damage, the company said in a statement.
Vodacom warned organised crime syndicates behind the spate of theft and destruction of base stations that their act is placing people’s lives in danger and sooner or later, these criminals will cost someone’s life.
With damaged based stations communities cannot make emergency calls.
“Incidents of base station vandalism and battery theft have significantly gotten worse since the beginning of the year. On a daily basis, we experience multiple incidents of break-ins in our base stations,” Perumal Moodley, Executive Head for Operations for Vodacom Gauteng region said.
“What we are finding through our investigations that this crime is being perpetuated by organised syndicates who are always finding new ways to commit this type of crime. We lose millions of rands worth of damage to our 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.”
Vodacom said 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.
“Crucially for us, the number one line of defence against site vandalism is the local community,” Perumal said.
“Therefore, 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 would like to appeal to ordinary members of the community to report incidents of battery theft or site vandalism by calling our toll free number: 082 241 9952 or SAPS on 10111.
Last month, a man who stole equipment from mobile phone base stations in the Western Cape was handed a 500-year prison sentence by a regional court in Cape Town.