With loadshedding set to be a permanent fixture in South Africa until at least July 2021, the need for battery-powered mobile network infrastructure is vital.

Batteries allow cellular towers (and other network infrastructure) to continue operating even when Eskom decides to cut the power. The trouble with this is that criminals have sticky fingers and steal these batteries.

Locally, MTN has made a noise about this theft of batteries and this week it reported some good news.

“In one of the biggest hauls to date, members of the South African Police Services (SAPS) arrested a suspect at the Beit Bridge point of entry in possession of 32 batteries. His vehicle including a trailer were also impounded,” reports MTN.

Another three suspects were apprehended in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal. Authorities received a tip-off and apprehended the suspects while they were inside the perimeter of the base station.

“Two vehicles with false licence plates were recovered at the scene, including the tools the suspects used to break in. The suspects have been detained and have been positively linked to other cases,” said MTN.

A third arrest by SAPS following a tip-off from another mobile network operator led to the recovery of 16 MTN batteries.

“We are encouraged with the breakthrough we are making in the fight against vandalism and the theft of telecommunications infrastructure; all the hard work is finally yielding results,” general manager for network operations for MTN South Africa, Ernest Paul said in a statement.

“MTN will continue to collaborate with other telco companies to completely clamp down on the scourge of battery theft, which is costing mobile network operators millions of rands and depriving consumers access to communication services,” Paul added.

MTN has asked South Africans to remain vigilant and report cellphone tower battery theft or suspicious activity. You can do that using the numbers and email addresses listed below.

  • Call the Bidvest Protea Coin Hotline –086 101 1721
  • Call the @MTNza Fraud Line –083 123 7867
  • Email [email protected]