Vandals Of Telecom Infrastructure Target Remote Areas

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Theft and vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure which has been rife in the southern and western parts of the country are said to have spread to the North West and Okavango Districts with the culprits targeting infrastructures located in secluded remote areas.

The perpetrators are said to target copper wires, batteries, solar panels and generator fuel which are then sold to members of the community and scrap yards. The stolen items them find they way from the scrap yards and sold across border to other African countries.

This was revealed by a representative from Mascom, Patience Moabi when addressing North West District Full Council this week adding that the vandalism has now become more sophisticated as it is done by a syndicate that travels across the country targeting remote areas.

From 2020 to date a total of 490 batteries where each battery costs around P4000 are said to have been stolen from the Mascom Wireless sites. The impact of this vandalism ultimately affects network coverage which directly leads to revenue loss for the business.

Moabi said the syndicate is very aggressive as they attack and overpower security personnel guarding the sites adding that this has become very dangerous for security officers as some have previously been badly injured during the attacks.

Moabi indicated that of recent they have also noticed a new trend of air conditioners, meter breakers, jumper cables theft and generator fuel theft from telecommunications sites.

She noted with concern that in some police stations, the vandalism of telecommunications infrastructure and theft of equipment at the sites across the country is not given the attention it deserves.

Moabi emphasised that scrap yards provide the market for stolen copper cables and other items that are stolen from their sites, urging councils to map way to manage them.

“Scrap yards aid the culprits as they buy copper and batteries stolen from telecommunication sites,” Moabi said.

Nowadays, she said even health facilities are using technology to improve some of their services, but vandalism results in provision of poor services.

“This is worrisome and it requires all stakeholders to come on board to find a solution. I am appealing to the general public to refrain from buying stolen equipment, but instead play a role of citizen vigilantes to curb the alarming situation,” she added.

Moabi said efforts have been made by some operators to engage security officers at their facilities, but stopped because they were exacerbating the situation by conniving with the perpetrators, while some security personnel got attacked. 

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