Eveline de Klerk
Walvis Bay-The plundering of copper wire and vandalism of infrastructure continues to be a challenge for Telecom Namibia, despite continuous efforts and awareness campaigns around the importance of such key infrastructure for Namibia.
The telecommunications parastatal suffered yet another loss of close to a million dollars when copper wire thieves struck in Otjimbingwe, Walvis Bay and the Namib Naukluft Park in what appears to be coordinated thefts.
Criminals not only caused a setback for the organisation but also massive damage to the infrastructure, with the utility now expected to fork out millions to restore the looted infrastructure.
According to information availed to New Era, Telecom Namibia lost N$700,000 worth of copper wire in the Otjimbingwe area in February when thieves cut poles and removed the copper wire.
The wire was later traced to a scrap metal dealer at Walvis Bay, Omakolokoto Metals, which led to the arrest of at least three men including the owner of the scrap metal dealership.
In another incident, in the same area, several suspects once again used the same modus operandi and stole copper wire valued at N$127,000. The copper wire was also traced to a scrap metal dealer in Walvis Bay.
Two similar cases were reported in the Namib Naukluft and in Walvis Bay itself. The thieves stole copper wire worth N$7,500 in the Namib Naukluft Park and copper wire worth N$10,000 in Walvis Bay. Deputy Commissioner Erastus Iikuyu yesterday told New Era that several suspects were arrested so far, including scrap metal dealers.
Andries Geingob, 42, who has five similar cases against him, in Swakopmund and Windhoek, was re-arrested for copper wire theft in Walvis Bay with Aron Afrikaner, 27, and a minor who cannot be named. Others arrested were Vaino Iita, Manfred Lucky Ganeb and James Seun Naruseb.
Oiva Angula, the head of corporate communications and public relations at Telecom Namibia, on Friday requested the public to be on the lookout for criminals targeting the institution’s infrastructure.
“We want the public to be aware what such damage can do to our infrastructure. At the same time, we are happy that the awareness we create is paying off that we are finally making some major breakthroughs in the fight against cable theft and network vandalism. We also urge the media to report on such vandalism and theft to drive a clear message to would-be criminals that the long arm of the law will eventually catch up with them,” Angula said.