Public urged to help stop cell tower battery theft after Gauteng syndicate arrested

04 September 2020

MTN welcomed the arrest of two men allegedly caught stealing back-up batteries at one of its towers in Durban and called on the public to play its part in ending the scourge of battery theft that leaves thousands of people with no connection.

Jacqui O’Sullivan, executive for corporate affairs at MTN South Africa said despite a fall in the number of cell tower battery theft incidences towards the end of 2019, increased incidences of theft and damage early in 2020 shows the battle is far from over.

Over 200 network infrastructure vandalism were reported in May alone and this is adding additional strain on networks.

Gauteng remains the hotspot province for these syndicate, particularly Soweto, Mamelodi and Vosloorus.

“The installation of high-tech security measures and more on-the-ground security initiated last year seemingly decreased theft and vandalism incidents, but the current trends indicate that syndicates are only getting more brazen in trying to regain the ground they lost,” O’Sullivan said.

Criminal syndicates are finding ways to navigate security measures and this has made things more difficult for the industry and the public, working hand-in-hand with law enforcement and security companies.

O’Sullivan said all national cellular networks remain under increasing pressure to improve recoveries and reduce theft as the knock-on effects will become more severe if left unchecked.

She added that greater community involvement and awareness can make an immense difference.

“A broader initiative needs to be driven by communities, the private sector, police and prosecutors. We have therefore adopted a 360-degree plan that permeates across our business and have noticed that when combined with greater community awareness and involvement, an immediate dent is made in criminal activities. Members of the public need to blow the whistle on criminals that steal essential infrastructure,” O’Sullivan said.