MTN to shut down 53 towers due to prolific battery thieves

By Doug Mattushek - 21 August 2019Views : 764

Thieves are responsible for millions of Rands of damage to cell phone towers across South Africa.

Service provider MTN is particularly hard hit and has been forced to shut down 53 towers in the Pretoria and Johannesburg areas.

"Recent data shows MTN had batteries stolen from 733 sites across the country in April 2019, with 1127 batteries stolen in May, 884 batteries stolen in June and 903 batteries stolen in July," MTN general manager for network operations Ernest Paul told The Citizen.

"Compared to last year, which saw 596 batteries stolen in May and 764 batteries stolen in June, the problem is growing.

"This is a national problem affecting all mobile networks. The current hotspots are now moving toward KwaZulu-Natal, it would seem. However, proactive operations are in place to counter the impact."

But the issue is not confined to MTN. Vodacom spokesperson Byron Kennedy spoke of a similar plight.

"...on average, 553 incidents per month are recorded where sites have been impacted by theft or damage," revealed Kennedy.

"For Vodacom, this amount equates to R120 to R130 million per annum spent on replacing stolen batteries, cables and other equipment, beefing up security and related costs to ensure the sites are fully functional."