Cable theft causes havoc at Johannesburg market – compromises product quality and safety

Johannesburg market is facing serious challenges due to cable theft since 26 October 2021.

“The lack of electricity has a disastrous impact on the quality and safety of agricultural products,” says Christo van der Rheede, Agri SA executive director.

At the present moment the power has still not been restored. “This is unacceptable for a market that provides agricultural products to 15 million people daily.”

Agri SA appeals to the Johannesburg City mayor and council to do everything in their power to restore electricity supply to the Johannesburg market. And to put the necessary security measures in place to prevent the theft of electricity cables in future.

“During power outages the market does not have the ability to supply power to the cold storage rooms. This has resulted in these storage rooms operating without cooling since 26 October 2021, with disastrous consequences to agricultural products. The value of stock in these cold rooms amounts to between R30 million and R61 million rand.”

The temperature in cold storage rooms should be running at ±2°C. Due to a lack of electricity, the temperature is currently above 10°C and it is compromising the freshness and quality of products relying on cold storage tremendously.

Ripening rooms have the same issue as ripening cycles are totally compromised, resulting in massive losses to producers due to poor ripening quality etc. “The losses by producers are estimated at around R500 000, 00 per day.”

The market has generators that can only supply power to sales areas. At night these generators are switched off and agents have to then run their own generators to provide lighting. This poses serious safety consequences as working in darkness is dangerous and compromises worker safety.

Van der Rheede says that cable theft is an ongoing occurrence and the issue was raised with the city administration on several occasions. “During recent meetings additional security at critical areas where cable theft is a regular occurrence, was requested.”

Agri SA is calling for immediate action and for city officials to restore the power to the Johannesburg market. “Compromising the safety and quality of agricultural products is in contravention of the Agricultural Products Standards Act. Hence, urgent intervention by the City to restore, maintain and protect the electricity supply to the market is therefore required. Producers do pay 5% of all sales over to the City of Johannesburg, which amounts to R450 million per annum and expect in return that the market is in a good operational state. They do expect service!”


Christo van der Rheede

Agri SA, Executive Director

C: 083 380 3492