THE Lesotho Electricity Company (LEC) has lost close to M2, 4 million to vandalism during the past three years from 2014 to date, LEC safety officer, Mohobo Nkhasi, has revealed.
Mr Nkhasi disclosed this at a Friday workshop in Maseru that was convened to provide feedback on the recommendations by the participants to the first two workshops aimed at raising awareness on the effects of vandalism of electrical equipment.
Mr Nkhasi said vandalism cost LEC M900 000 in the 2016 to 2017 financial year, M1 076 887 (2015/2016 financial year) and M420 000 in the 2014/2015 financial year.
He said that the cost of vandalism from April 2017 to date was already close to M300 000 and these costs were only for vandalised material and excluded transport and replacement costs.
LEC Public Liability and Vandalism Technician, Tokiso Toi, said participants had recommended that LEC investigates allegations that culprits included some of the company’s employees.
“During our research, we found out that some of these culprits are LEC staff members and we encourage buyers of scrap metal to demand identification to make it easier for LEC to track those who sell the copper and other materials to the scrapyards,” Mr Toi said.
Other recommendations included the need to inspect scrap yards to identify whether or not there was any vandalised electrical equipment as well as to ensure scrap yard owners complied with the requirement that they should have letters from chiefs indicating the origin of the scrap they intended to sell.
Matlala Kelepa, from MK Scrap Yard alleged that some of the police officers who confiscated scrap material on the grounds that it had been stolen ultimately returned to sell them the same material.
She said LEC should also consider selling their cut-offs to local scrap yards other than taking them to South Africa.
“This leaves us with no choice but to buy material brought to us by suspected vandals because our businesses will not grow if we refuse to buy,” Ms Kelepa said.
It was also recommended that there should be specific legislation to deal with vandalism rather than the current scenario where suspects were charged in terms of the Penal Code of 2010.
Participants included chiefs, police officers, Lesotho Revenue Authority Customs officials, scrap yard owners, the Maseru City Council, the Water and Sewerage Company, independent associations such as the Crime Prevention Rehabilitation and Reintegration of Ex-prisoners Association and other relevant government departments.
Most participants were from Maseru and Maputsoe as these areas are most prone to vandalism.
Mr Nkhasi further said that vandalism had been on the rise since the 2014-2015 financial year and the vandalism and theft of cables and other materials continued to threaten the supply of electricity.