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Battery thieves threaten to plunge SA into a telecomms blackout


Battery thieves threaten to plunge SA into a telecomms blackout

Gangs sell stolen cellphone tower batteries for use in home solar power systems, and the problem is getting worse

Senior reporter

Organised crime syndicates targeting industrial batteries powering the country’s cellphone towers are wrecking businesses and threatening to plunge SA into a telecommunications black hole.

In the past month, thieves – who reportedly sell stolen batteries each to households running off-grid power systems – have run riot across the country’s economic hub of Gauteng, stealing hundreds of cellphone tower batteries. 

These batteries – that are worth around R28 000 each and can last up to eight years – are used to power cellphone masts. If they are stolen, there is no back-up power. The cellphone masts are independent of Eskom, so if the power grid goes down, the masts are not affected...

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