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MTN appeals to consumers to report battery theft in lead-up to festive season

With the festive session around the corner, MTN continues to appeal to communities to report theft and vandalism of network towers.

The increasing theft of backup batteries and vandalism of infrastructure across the country has resulted in mobile network operators like MTN having to shut down some of its cellphone towers, leading to strain on the wider network and diminishing quality of coverage in certain parts of the country.

Then there are the outages and network downtime that needs to be factored in, while operators replace lost batteries, repair damage to sites and correct and maintain the towers - leaving South Africans without cellphone and Internet connectivity for indeterminable periods of time.

"Although great strides have been made in the prevention and recovery of stolen batteries, it is still a concern," says Ernest Paul, General Manager: MTN Network Operations. "Particularly now, as we know that crime spikes in December, which means that more batteries may be stolen - and more consumers may be left unconnected."

Not only does the theft of backup batteries at network towers disrupt day-to-day communication with loved ones and access to network-based services such as instant messaging, social media and online banking services - it also poses real safety and security risks.

Home security alarm systems, for example, use network signal to send a distress signal to control rooms for security response. If the signal is disrupted, a signal will not be sent and your security company won't respond. The same applies for vehicle tracking devices in an event of theft or hijacking, and personal safety and GPS location apps.

"The festive season is a time for connecting with friends and family. It is also a time when South Africans need to be able to call emergency services should they find themselves in dangerous situations, whether on holiday, at home, or on the roads. Without connection to a cellphone network, this is impossible.

"Battery theft is a crime that compromises the safety and welfare of every South African, but it is not a crime that we can fight alone. We therefore appeal to all South Africans to 'help us help you' by reporting any theft, vandalism or suspicious activity that you see, hear of or come across. We are doing our part and, together with SAPS and other law enforcement authorities, we are making headway, but we need assistance from the public," concludes Paul.

Members of the public are urged to report suspected battery theft cases to:

Bidvest Protea Coin Hotline - Call 086 101 [email protected] Fraud Line - Call 083 123 7867 Or email [email protected]

MTN

MTN Group

Launched in 1994, the MTN Group is a multinational telecommunications group, operating in 21 countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The MTN Group is listed on the JSE Securities Exchange in South Africa under the share code: "MTN".

As at the end of 30 June 2010, MTN recorded 129.2 million subscribers across its operations in Afghanistan, Benin, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Cyprus, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Republic, Iran, Liberia, Nigeria, Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zambia. The MTN Group is a global sponsor of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa and has exclusive mobile content rights for Africa and the Middle East. Visit http://www.mtn.com and http://www.mtnfootball.com.