Thursday, September 14, 2006

Darkest Africa ...

... descended on my home on tuesday evening.

We had just got home and were halfway through preparing the evening meal of woolworths meals in minutes (which is the only way I can cook) when the electricity tripped. At least that was what we thought at first as we stumbled around the house looking for a torch. Damn, it's on the yacht in Durban which is a really good place to keep it, if we were on the yacht that is. Found my headlamp at last and proceeded to light the 30 odd candles which we have been given for the last n years where n is large for assorted birthdays, christmas's and what have you. I'll remember not to think "No, not a another bloody candle" in future.

After a bit of investigation we find that it isn't only us, it is the whole street that is in darkness and that the reason is that Metro Power has turned the street off so that they can repair the overhead power cables. The reason for the fixit job is that, once again, someone who by nature of his job must remain nameless has stolen one of the phases and in order to give every third house their electricity back, we all have to sit in darkness for a while.

Ok, well this isn't so bad as we wander around the house with everything under candle light. Surprising how well one can actually see with just a candle. Not enough to read by but one could cope with most things. The neighbours in the next street seem to enjoy rubbing it in, they put on every light on their property. We also became acutely aware of all sorts of noises, particularly that of the security van rushing up and down the street looking for would be thieves hoping to take advantage of the situation. I didn't want to stop them and spoil their fun by pointing out that the thieves have come and gone some time ago.

The first hour was kinda fun as we ate our half cooked meal, the second boring and by the third I needed my electricity back. Now. I wouldn't be able to survive without it for long, one gets so used to it always being there that one forgets just how utterly dependent on it one is.

In case you happen not to be familiar with South Africa, a brief background to cable theft. Since all the power cables are copper and copper is quite valuable there is a quite a thriving cottage industry which specialises in power and telecoms cable theft. Of course sometimes they get it wrong and steal fibre-optic cable which I don't think there is a second hand market for. Sometimes they get it really wrong and forget to trip the high tension power lines before stealing them. Bzzzzzt. Anyway, it is a bit of a pest and costs us, the taxpayer, quite a pretty copper penny. I've heard some funny stories of cable repair people repairing cables and having them stolen again before they even finished the repair job but that may just be an urban legend.

So we have now joined the masses of people who have been victims of cable theft.

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