With the ongoing vandalism and theft of batteries and cables at cellphone towers across South Africa, MTN has partnered with the Gauteng Provincial Community Police Board to support Community Policing Forums to accelerate the fight against this type of crime.

The aim of is to protect network tower infrastructures and minimise network downtime and its impact on the connectivity experience of subscribers.

MTN SA CEO Charles Molapisi says the partnership with the Gauteng Provincial Community Police Board will see technology harnessed to prevent and reduce incidents of vandalism and theft at cell towers to ultimately ensure that our communities are safer.

“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. The effect is devastating on lives and livelihoods, and this is why we are ramping up prevention measures in the communities we serve.

“There has never been a more opportune time than now for organisations like ours – a leader in technology and mobile services with a broad reach into communities across SA – to identify opportunities from this crisis and partner with local communities and Community Policing Forums to leverage their competencies and abilities to combat criminal and infrastructure damage.”

TJ Masilela, Gauteng Provincial Community Police Board executive chairperson says: “Communities must own the technology infrastructure and defend it by using intelligence and the crime prevention measures of the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies.

“Fighting criminal tendencies and infrastructure damage needs a multi-integrated approach. CPF’s through our force multiplier community patrollers intelligence from the community crime intelligence network, have a chance to make difference and win the war against crime.”

In the pilot phase of the partnership, currently being rolled out in Soweto, a command centre has been set up with laptops, printers, and other equipment to gather data. Technology such as CCTV and WIFI points will be harnessed to detect criminal activity and alert responders. In addition, CPF members will also receive new uniforms and equipment like panic buttons and handcuffs to ensure they are armed for any eventuality.

MTN SA plans to ensure even broader benefits in Phase 2 of the initiative, aimed at driving shared value across the communities in which MTN operates.

“Our aim is, in time, to empower CPFs across SA 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. 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,” concludes Molapisi.