SAPS received information that a group of criminals in the Nkangala District stole and destroyed Eskom infrastructure and surrounding mines.
It is believed that the criminals burnt Eskom transformers to gain easy access to the mine without being detected. As a result of their actions, parts of the area experienced power/electricity outages for several days. Properties worth millions of rands were damaged, leaving scores of nearby residents without electricity.
“Police were notified about the matter and on Friday, 19 February 2021, police went to the site and caught suspects busy stealing copper cables and steel,” stated Brigadier Leonard Hlathi.
A total of 114 suspects were arrested on various charges, including trespassing, possession of suspected stolen properties, contravention of the Disaster Management Regulations by failing to confine to their places of residence, as well as contravention of the Illegal Immigration Acts.
Police also seized 20 vehicles believed to have been used in these illegal activities.
The investigation is ongoing and SAPS have not ruled out the possibility of adding more charges to the suspects which may include sabotage and the damaged infrastructure.
The suspects have already appeared in court. Six of which have been granted bail while the remaining suspects will apply for bail on Monday, 01 March 2021.
“The police management in the province indicated that such a situation cannot be allowed to continue like that where people go on rampage where they damage infrastructure and wreak havoc whilst stealing items from the mines and Eskom,” concluded Hlathi.
Police have intensified their operations around the affected areas.