18 October 2017 Read: 79
Vodacom has hundreds of base stations in Limpopo, many of which are in isolated rural areas. These base stations are increasingly being targeted for theft and vandalism, which can leave entire communities without communication and causes millions of Rands worth of damage. Vodacom has implemented new measures to make sure that thieves are caught and prosecuted.
Cellular base stations are the only form of connectivity available to many communities, and when criminals target these base stations to steal diesel, batteries and copper, they can cut off thousands of people.
“We’re seeing millions of rands worth of damage to our base stations annually which ultimately impacts the cost of mobile services. But more important than the monetary impact, criminals are cutting off entire communities. We repeatedly see situations where people can’t make emergency calls and are put in danger by these criminals. Sooner or later these criminals will cost someone’s life,” said Ishmael Mathinya, Executive for Operation for Vodacom’s Limpopo Region.“ “We have implemented a programme that uses hidden tracking chips and other security technology to trace batteries and other equipment. Our security team is using helicopters and specialist mobile units to track the stolen items so that we can catch and prosecute the thieves, as well as anyone knowingly buying stolen equipment.”
Each theft incident can result in the network in that area being down for days, and can severely impact businesses as well as anyone relying on the internet to study. It can also cause ecological damage with vandalism resulting in diesel spillage.
“Having said that, the number one line of defense is the local community. We’ve dyed the diesel in our base stations blue to help people identify and report stolen diesel. We urge anyone who sees this diesel for sale or sees suspicious activity around our base stations to report it to the police. It’s in everyone’s best interest to act before their signal is cut off.”