Three robbers who were caught red-handed stealing electricity wires from Fordsburg to Braamfontein in Johannesburg fled after a gunfight with City Power security personnel.

The suspects were apprehended while attempting to breach the concrete barrier on the M1 double-decker in order to get access to the integrated cable supplying electricity from Fordsburg to Braamfontein through subterranean tunnels.

Tshifularo Mashava, chief executive officer (CEO) of City Power, has praised the efforts of security and law enforcement authorities to combat cable thieves.

According to him, the suspects were identified by City Power security personnel who attempted to apprehend them.

Cable thieves left their tools behind after a shootout with City Power security guards. Image: City Power

“However, the heavily armed mob of suspects retaliated by discharging live ammunition, forcing our security to retreat,” Mashava said.

Tshifularo Mashava said that “It was during this time that the suspects managed to escape, leaving behind their tools, including a crowbar and axe, at the crime scene.”

Mashava said that no City Power security personnel were injured during the gunfight with the thieves.

“The area is where we lost two security officers who were ambushed while patrolling the double-decker highway a year ago. “This is the daily experience for our security personnel,” Mashava said.

Tshifularo Mashava said that “We are in a war.”

With the assistance of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department, Mashava said that patrols would be increased in the area. This incident demonstrates how bold and well-armed the cable theft ring is, Mashava added.

Tshifularo Mashava said:

‘We are pumping more resources into the fight against cable theft and vandalism and believe the war will be won, especially with the active involvement of the communities we serve.”

“In this current financial year, the entity has been allocated R300 million for the fight against cable theft and infrastructure vandalism.

“The entity recorded about 33 incidents of vandalism and cable theft between Monday (16 January 2023) and Thursday (19 January) this week, which includes several minisub stations that were vandalised in different areas.”

City Power is imploring citizens to be cautious and to continue to serve as stewards of the energy system by reporting any unusual activity in its vicinity.