Cable theft solution: ‘People, Process and Technology’ implementation

by P Maseema, City of Tshwane


Published in the October 2014 issue of Electricity+Control (pages 18 – 20)

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A previous article on cable theft, ‘Cable theft solution – technical or socio-economic’ - published in the June 2013 issue of Electricity and Control, indicated that:

  • Cable theft in South Africa’s City of Tshwane (CoT) was estimated to have cost R 30 M in 2012
  • An integrated ‘People, Process and Technology’ approach was needed to combat cable theft in the CoT – which is seen to be a socio-economic - and not a technical - problem
  • Technology is effective as an enabler for prevention or detection of cable theft in the CoT
  • There are different types of cable thieves in the CoT (E-thieves, N-thieves and G-thieves) and each type requires a different response in combating cable theft in South Africa
  • More than 500 cable thieves were arrested in the CoT in 2012
  • G-thieves contribute the most to cable theft in the CoT










The risk of cable theft in South Africa must not be approached from a generic point of view. The various types of cable thieves (E-thieves, N-thieves and G-thieves) pose different risks and must be handled differently.

E-thieves are hard to detect as they do not plan to steal. These cable thieves are better dealt with from a values/moral and spiritual point of view so that they are discouraged from taking stealing opportunities. E-thieves are hard to measure because they are opportunistic and situational. The best way of dealing with these cable thieves is to reduce opportunities to steal and also encourage good morals in society.

N-thieves are often caught by community members. They repeat their actions and are easy to trap and catch. The response to N-thieves is also bearing fruit because most Nyaope addicts are quitting the drug with CoT help and encouraging their peers to do the same.

G-thieves are sophisticated and dangerous. They are not easy for community members to catch. However, some of them sometimes brag about their theft successes to community members. This enables community members to report them to relevant authorities for investigation. G-thieves are better dealt with through intelligence (state intelligence agencies) gathering and intense monitoring of suspects. G-thieves require dedicated surveillance specialists and not ordinary security guards. There is a need to focus more money on cutting down reaction times, because more technical security on the wires is not adequate on its own. The impact of cable theft by G-thieves in CoT was high at some point (April to July 2014) but has since declined.


Take note

  • Cable theft in South Africa must not be approached from a generic point of view.
  • Understanding the root causes of cable theft in South Africa holistically will assist in prevention and reaction strategies.
  • The identified categories of cable thieves pose different threats and must be handled according to the threats they pose.