by DUDU SAKI and THAPELO MATLALA
Citizens of Makhanda’s Ward Two braved the chilling cold and windy weather on 20 February and turned out to an anti-cable theft meeting at Mamu Pango’s church in KwaThata.
The gathering was convened by ANC ward councillor Rami Xonxa just four days after a meeting between the Unemployed Peoples’ Movement (UPM), Eskom, the Grahamstown Business Forum, Hi Tech, the South African Police Service and mayor Yandiswa Vara resolved to close down the Chicks Scrap Metals.
Chicks Scrap Metals stood accused of buying and re-selling copper cable that had been stolen from electricity transformers, causing devastating power cuts to residents in Makhanda. Metal taps were also allegedly sold at the scrapyard, said the UPM’s Ayanda Kota.
“We have held a series of meetings over the last year with communities, Eskom, the SAPS, and the Business Forum and then submitted an affidavit to police to close Chicks, something that they did” Kota said.
Vusimzi Khahlane of the Anti-Crime Group said that the cables are sold so something must be done to stop the buyers from buying these cables.
One resident who identified himself only as Mr Jaloyi supported the closure of Chicks Scrap Metals Another resident, a Mr Medu pointed out that scrapyards require ID so it should be fairly easy to trace those who sell the cables.
Kota added that residents in Gqeberha had already shut down Chicks Scrap Metals after it was found to be buying and selling copper cable and that the company should not have been allowed to operate in Makhanda.
Sipho Zono from Sizo Media, also a resident in the area, said that the “amaphara” (petty criminals) operate when there is loadshedding and the Neighbourhood Watch should be given a solar-powered floodlight to help when patrolling. Zono called on more community members to join the patrols.
Luyanda Sakata of Anti-Crime Group said the municipality should cooperate with all the structures involved in fighting the crime including the SAPS and Neighbourhood watch. He expressed his gratitude to the police station for their cooperation in this regard.
The meeting resolved to take up a petition against copper cable and metal theft, but Archbishop Nkosinathi Ngesi from Makhanda Legends and the South African Council of Churches said that a march would be more impactful.
Ngesi called upon residents to do more in fighting cable theft, and urged the taxi industry to be part and parcel of this programme.
Zono was given the task of obtaining the solar floodlight with the help of the contributions of the KwaThatha community.
Xonxa said negligence and crime had left Ward Two in a bad state. The meeting then took a resolution to stop illegal dumping.
“Citizens, should they see someone dumping waste illegally and irresponsibly, should pick up that waste and return it to the dumper’s residence” said Xonxa.
SAPS Colonel Mbeleni made the closing remarks and condemned the issue of cable theft.