By Ashok Ramsarup :: A leading South African security company on the North Coast in KwaZulu-Natal has nabbed two suspects allegedly of the syndicate in connection with cellphone tower batteries. It is alleged that men are from a syndicate operating from Tembisa, a residential township situated on the East Rand in Gauteng.
Reaction Unit of South Africa head Prem Balram has lauded a team of investigators who were able to make the suspects following what he termed a lengthy search in Temple Valley, which is a town about 30 kilometers from the port city of Durban.
Mobile companies are losing millions of Rand following the battery thefts from the cellphone towers in the country. They are now facing huge challenges when they experience load-shedding, easily encouraging criminals to target the towers.
Balram said, acting on a tip-off the alleged suspects from the Gauteng Cellular Tower Battery Syndicate were spotted following a suspicious activity at a cellphone tower in the Temple Valley vicinity. He said immediately Reaction Officers were dispatched to the scene.
He said: “The officers were summoned to the call of duty immediately early this morning following an increase of battery theft from cellphone towers, thus impacting the network of mobile companies.
“When Reaction Officers arrived on the scene, a motor vehicle was found and suspects fled into a nearby bush. During a lengthy foot chase, two suspects were apprehended. The search for the third suspect is continuing.
“A motor vehicle with no registrations which was apparently used as one of two vehicles to load the stolen batteries was found abandoned at the scene. During their investigation Reaction, Offices found a battery in the vehicle. The team also found a number of house break-in implements,“ commented Balram.
Balram said: “One of the suspects indicated he’s a Zimbabwean national. Another suspect claimed to be a waiter and his accomplice a cook at a restaurant in Johannesburg. They claimed that they joined the syndicate due to them being unemployed as a result of the lockdown effective several months ago because of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
He added said mobile service providers use battery back-up systems to ensure there was enough power from the cellphone towers for several hours when there was a power outage.
Ashok Ramsarup is award-winning senior journalist of South Africa