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Johannesburg Data Centre Cables Stolen

The City of Johannesburg’s data centre in Braamfontein was recently the victim of a theft. Announced in a statement by Mayor Herman Mashaba, cables were stolen from the data centre and now there is a reward being offered for information.

The cables are worth around 2 million South African Rand, which converts roughly to around 139000 US dollars. The reason they’re so valuable is because they’re made of copper. If anyone provides information that leads to the arrest of suspects, they will be rewarded with 100000 South African Rand, roughly $6900 US dollars.

It’s alleged that the thieves accessed the building in the early hours of the morning, through an emergency exit door on the ground floor. Once they were in, they broke a door which led to a storeroom. This storeroom was being used by contractors, who were storing their tools inside for maintenance work.

Apparently, they then took grinding machines and extension cords from this room, which they were then able to use to cut the desired cables. The stolen cables were hooked up to two power generators, which were brand new and only recently entered the process of being tested.

In his statement, Mashaba said that there were no power outages or further damage caused because of the theft. Nevertheless, it’s an unwanted setback for the city in their process of building a data and disaster recovery centre.

The facility was due to open at the end of 2017, but this will be delayed due to the theft. A small area of the centre is already operational, but this was apparently not accessed during the break-in. Johannesburg is currently paying around 6 million South African Rand (US$413000) to local data centre companies, a figure that was set to change when their own data centre launched. However, they’ll have to keep paying that sum for a while due to these delays.

Lucky Sindane, director for strategic stakeholder management at the city’s Forensic and Investigation Services division, said that it was clear it was an inside job. He also said it might be linked to the investigations that their department was already undertaking, since they are considering “irregular tenders that are wanted by previous administrators”.

“It’s definitely not [people] that are making money out of the cables, it’s people that we are currently paying,” he said. “People that are no longer going to benefit from us when we have this data centre as a city. That’s what we believe.”

It’s suspected that the theft was an inside job since there was no sign of forced entry to the building, thus they would need a key card to get in, suggesting that the thieves knew their way around and where the tools they needed would be stored. A report also notes that CCTV cameras and alarms had been disabled due to the maintenance work.

The service provider who was helping the city build this centre has promised that they will be vetting all their staff and performing lie detector tests to try and find the perpetrators.


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