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Impact of Vandalism and Theft

Updated: Nov 30, 2022


What is Vandalism in infrastructure

This involves a deliberate action whereby public or private property is damaged. In the particular case of Mafube, the electricity network is targeted for any metal material that can be sold as scrap metal to scrap yards, vendors, and persons buying these materials to sell somewhere else outside Mafube.

This has resulted in Rural Free State (RFS) having to replace all historic copper lines with aluminum ones and any other materials that have some market value. Unfortunately, this is not only a local but a nationwide problem. This market is driven by syndicates who prey on the poor who are desperate to collect these materials at risk to their own lives for pennies meanwhile others thrive based on their risk.

List of events in Mafube

Rural Free State’s (RFS) first priority is always to immediately repair, replace and rectify any unsafe conditions caused by stolen infrastructure & equipment when reported to ensure there is continuity of supply of electricity. This ensures that businesses can continue to operate and residents are inconvenienced as little as possible.

Our latest incidents involve the theft of street light conductors, cables, and batteries for communication devices as well as vandalism and theft of transformers.

RFS had the following incidents since the beginning of 2022:



1 Jan

Cable theft in Phomolong Frankfort

4 Jan

Cable theft in JJ Hadebe Str Frankfort

9 Jan

Cable theft in Phomolong Frankfort

13 Jan

Cable theft in Gordon Str Frankfort

26 Jan

Cable theft in JJ Hadebe Str Frankfort

6 Feb

Overheads conductor theft in Cornelia

8 Feb

Cable theft in Mark Str Frankfort

25 Apr

Cable theft in Beck with Str Frankfort

28 Apr

Cable theft in JJ Hadebe Str Frankfort

6 May

Cable theft at Station houses in Villiers

9 Jun

Cable theft and vandalism of metering equipment at the sewer plant in Villiers

15 Jun

Transformer supplying the clinic was stolen in Qalabotjha Villiers

12 Jul

Theft of metering equipment at Villiers

20 Jul

Vandalism of transformer in Villiers

30 & 31 Aug

Overheads conductor stolen in Princess, Nieuw Cilliers and Gordon Streets in Frankfort

15 Sep

Cable theft in Villiers

16 Sep

Overheads conductor theft in Cilliers Str Frankfort

19 Sep

Cable theft in Phomolong Frankfort

22 Sep

Nieuw Str Frankfort overheads conductor theft

26 Sep

Vandalism and theft of metering equipment in Villiers

28 Sep

Street lights, conductors, and batteries were stolen. In Frankfort, fuse holders were stolen.

29 Sep

Street light cables were stolen in Frankfort.

RFS responded to these events as soon as they were reported, this ensured that disruptions to the electricity supply were kept to a minimum.

What does it cost the community?

Theft and vandalism of electrical infrastructure lead to the interruption of electricity supply, and higher tariffs and poses danger to the community.

RFS alone has spent more than R1 million over the past 12 months to fix the electricity infrastructure damaged due to theft and vandalism. This is only the direct cost of replacing the material and infrastructure and does not include the loss in revenue from electricity sales and those of businesses reliant on their electricity supply.

This is similarly something experienced by all other municipalities and our State Organisations like Eskom, Spoornet, PRASA, and Transnet where public infrastructure is targeted. Transnet in their financial year for 2021/2022 had 4,356 incidents of theft and lost 1,506km of cable. This crime as such impacts every South African directly and indirectly. Recent estimates suggest these state agencies have incurred losses to the value of R46.5bn per annum.

Where does it take place?

Anywhere and everywhere, where there is an opportunity posed for these criminals where local residents are not vigilant theft and vandalism will occur. RFS had instances where the electrical cable next to the main road to Namahadi was dug up in broad daylight by persons clearly not part of any formal service provider or the municipality. They stole from the community while individuals drove past.

The photographic evidence has been shown.

Secondly, with the current continuous load shedding implemented by ESKOM these criminals make use of these time frames to plan their operations. They know each load-shedding cycle is around 2 hours for them to carry out their work and the time they have available before anyone will notice what took place.

In Villiers, the local councilors have taken it upon themselves to mobilize the community and look after the network as it is ultimately the community that suffers most due to the increase in costs to receive electricity.

Similarly, the community of Protea Glen Ext 22 in Soweto where the community collected funds among themselves to ensure the infrastructure in their area is protected from vandalism and theft. Sowetan Live of 11 July 2022 “Soweto Community rallies to protect electricity box”

This current challenge where desperate people and criminal syndicates are targeting our public property as a means to generate income can only be overcome if local residents take responsibility to help in protecting their electrical and water infrastructure. This is done by reporting any suspicious activities in and around electrical plants and infrastructure and businesses or persons who are part of these criminal syndicates as there is always a buyer and seller involved.

Why Support Rural in your community?

Our values:

To create a code of behaviour that builds a cohesive culture and supports the company’s vision and mission.

Our Mission statement:

The mission of Rural Free State is “To engage in the small to medium energy marketplace with superior products, resources, and customer service.”

Benefits of being served by RFS:

  • As the Private sector RFS ensures that the latest technologies are deployed to ensure that costs are kept to the minimum.

  • Apart from the national load shedding outages for planned maintenance are kept to the minimum and unplanned outages are attended to as soon as it happens. If our customers don't have electricity we can't generate an income.

  • Constant skills development to our staff to ensure competency and compliance with legal requirements.

  • Availability of full-time electrical engineers to assist in the smooth running of the daily operational requirements along with applying the best practice methodologies.

  • kWh Losses are managed aggressively to enhance revenue and keep tariffs low. Hence our loss percentage of less than 10% which is far below the industry norm.

  • Enhanced customer service and improved quality of supply to the community

  • Prudent management of funds to ensure value for money.

  • As a direct result of all the above RFS applied for some tariffs to be increased below the NERSA benchmarks.

How can the community help and report faults to RFS?

Report any acts of theft and vandalism to RFS and the SAPS and help keep Mafube safe.

What you can do to help stop copper theft:

Keep an eye out for suspicious activity around electrical equipment and infrastructure.

Report any suspicious activity or faults to SAPS or RFS 24-hour call center:

  • RFS SHARE CALL NUMBER: 0860 111 440

  • SMS 44 626

  • Whatsapp 076 352 3347


Vandalism and Theft Case Image Examples in Mafube


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