Zama zamas threaten City Power substations

17 February 2023 - 08:03
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Zama zamas were spotted digging outside the Roodepoort substation, threatening the integrity of the surface floor and pylons along the servitude run.
Zama zamas were spotted digging outside the Roodepoort substation, threatening the integrity of the surface floor and pylons along the servitude run.
Image: Supplied

Critical City Power infrastructure is at risk of collapsing as zama zamas regularly dig close to two substations in Roodepoort, Gauteng.

According to Isaac Mangena, City Power spokesperson, the entity is conducting a geotechnical study in the Roodepoort area to determine whether the structural integrity of the  substations next to illegal mining activities remain intact.  

Mangena said officials visited the Robertville and Roodepoort substations, where visible ground and structural cracks and holes could be seen around the infrastructure. Some structural components within the substations, including the plinth on which the transformers and switchgear sit and the concrete area, are “shaky”, with the risk of the substation caving in.

“Zama zamas were spotted digging outside the Roodepoort substation, threatening the integrity of the surface floor and the pylons along the servitude run. Last year the same substation came under attack from suspected illegal miners who cut through the fence to gain entry.

“They ripped off 24 copper cables from at least three transformers, stripped off copper earth conductors, and vandalised most of the substation, leaving a trail of almost R3.5m in destruction,” Mangena said.

During the visit on Thursday MMC for environment and infrastructure Jack Sekwaila expressed deep concern as the illegal mining practices continue unhindered.

“We reiterate our call to law enforcement agencies to intensify the fight against zama zamas who have not only destroyed infrastructure, but also steal and vandalise City Power property.

“We should by all means avoid any disaster due to their activities,” Sekwaila said.

City Power chief engineer infrastructure planning Hilda Nonkonyana said the ground assessment will be done as a matter of urgency.

“A geotechnical study will be carried out immediately and a decision taken whether the substations should be moved to other locations. Another consideration as a stop-gap would be to deploy mobile substations while a lasting solution is implemented.”

City Power is looking for safer land should the need for relocation arise.

Nonkonyana said: “We have increased security in and around the substations but this is proving to be insufficient, hence the appeal to police arrest the alleged criminals and carry out regular patrols within the vicinity of the affected infrastructure.”

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