Vodacom in KwaZulu-Natal is ramping up measures to fight the theft at base station sites, which causes millions of rand worth of damage each year.
Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal’s base stations are increasingly being targeted by theft and vandalism, which can leave entire communities without communication.
The company said the region is experiencing more than 70 incidents of vandalism reported on a monthly basis.
The region is losing R6.5 million per month from vandalism, a cumulative R80 million per annum. In most cases, the theft has resulted in significant site downtime, leaving entire communities in parts of the province with no connectivity.
“We are seeing a dramatic rise in the number of base station vandalism and battery theft cases across the province. We have registered 70 cases per month since the start of 2020, effectively 840 incidents of vandalism per annum,” said Chris Lazarus, Managing Executive for Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal region.
“What we are finding through our investigations is that this crime is being perpetuated by organised syndicates who find new ways to commit this type of crime. We lose millions of Rands worth of damage to our base stations annually because of theft and vandalism. But more importantly than the monetary impact, criminals are cutting off entire communities.”
The region has embarked on a new network resilience upgrade programme, investing almost R200 million install a range of solutions including container claddings and surveillance cameras.
Lazarus said, “Crucially for us, the number one line of defence against site vandalism is the local community. 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.”
In this regard, the region has been driving engagements with communities, councillors, induna, amakhosi and educational campaigns. Vodacom would like to appeal to 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.
“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,” said Lazarus.