Four hundred SIM cards have been stolen from high tech traffic lights.
He described the thefts as “systematic and co-ordinated”.
“The vandalism began with a few lights in November and we repaired them. Over December the thieves struck again, this time hitting hundreds more, including the ones we had repaired,” he said.
“These people know what they are doing.”
Repairing the faulty traffic lights will cost JRA about 9m rand ($1.3m; £870,000).
JRA has said it has blocked all the stolen Sim cards so that they cannot be used to make further calls – but this was not before the thieves had run up huge bills.
“One card had a bill of 30,000 rand ($4,500; £2,900) and we are talking about no less than 150 Sim card bills. Whichever way we look at it we are talking about a lot of money,” said Mr Makhubela.
South Africa has 2,000 Megawatt Power Deficiency. Equipment failure is the leading cause.
“Even if we pull all the levers, there’s still a gap,” Brian Dames, chief executive officer of Eskom Holdings Ltd., told reporters in Johannesburg today. With electricity demand expected to rise 2 percent this year, only energy savings by consumers can prevent blackouts, he said.
The risk of power outages has also increased during the past three months because of equipment failures at power plants, and more recently, as heavy rains curbed the supply of coal to Eskom’s plants, Dames said. Anglo American Plc and BHP Billiton Ltd. have said supplies to the utility have been disrupted.
South Africa, the world’s largest ferrochrome producer, suffered blackouts in 2008 as a shortage of capacity led to the temporary shutdown of some of the largest platinum mines and deepest gold operations. Anglo, BHP and Xstrata Plc are among the country’s largest power users.
“It sounds very similar to the last crisis with equipment failures, wet coal and the like, which begs the questions of if they learnt the required lessons that time around,” Peter Attard Montalto, an economist at Nomura International Plc, said by e-mail today. “Investors need to be cautious that as the economy recovers the situation is only going to be worse next year before the next power station comes online.”