Policing forums to help MTN tackle theft, vandalism

Image of MTN South Africa CEO Charles Molapisi

CHARLES MOLAPISI MTN South Africa last year accelerated its drive to ensure a resilient network

23rd February 2024

By: Natasha Odendaal

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Telecommunications giant MTN is adding another approach to its efforts in mitigating the ongoing vandalism and theft of batteries and cables at its cellphone towers across South Africa by partnering with the Gauteng Provincial Community Police Board.

MTN South Africa last year accelerated its drive to ensure a resilient network as many of its towers are, in some cases, completely stripped by vandals, with the company spending billions of rands a year repairing and replacing equipment, as well as enhancing security.

Through the new partnership, which will support community policing forums (CPFs), technology will be harnessed to prevent and reduce incidents, protect network tower infrastructure and minimise network downtime and its impact on connectivity, says MTN South Africa CEO Charles Molapisi.

A pilot phase of the partnership is currently being rolled out in Soweto, and a command centre has been set up with laptops, printers and other equipment to gather data, with technology, such as closed- circuit television and WiFi points, to be harnessed to detect criminal activity and alert responders.

CPF members will receive new uniforms and equipment, including panic buttons and handcuffs, to ensure they are armed for any eventuality.

Broader benefits are planned for the second phase of the initiative.

“Our aim is, in time, to empower CPFs across South Africa to protect network sites in their respective communities. Nothing is more important in South Africa today than the fight against the crime that is impacting our country,” says Molapisi.

“Persistent loadshedding in recent months has resulted in a significant increase in theft of network assets and vandalism of our tower infrastructure. “These criminal activities come at a high cost to the company and they also prevent communities from accessing the network and staying in touch and connected to work, the emergency services and to each other.”

He explains that it is an opportune time to identify opportunities from this crisis and partner with local communities and CPFs to leverage their competencies and abilities to combat criminal and infrastructure damage.

“Communities must own the technology infrastructure and defend it by using intelligence and the crime prevention measures of the South African Police Service and other law enforcement agencies. “Fighting criminal tendencies and infrastructure damage needs a multi-integrated approach.”

CPFs, through force multiplier community patrollers intelligence from the community crime intelligence network, have a chance to make a difference and win the war against crime, adds Gauteng Provincial Community Police Board executive chairperson TJ Masilela.

“Together we can ensure criminals are brought to book, syndicates dismantled and ultimately the people of South Africa can enjoy the full benefits of a modern connected life,” Molapisi concludes.

Edited by Martin Zhuwakinyu
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor



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