Zero tolerance on cable theft
South Africa is facing a major problem with copper theft and has a negative impact on all citizens. The estimated loss due to copper theft is approximately R5 billion per year with eThekwini Electricity contributing R60 million to that loss. It has an impact on the City’s communication network, electricity supply, and railway and traffic services. 

What is cable theft?
This is when people steal cables and sell it to scrap dealers for money or used for illegal connections. Copper cable holds a high monetary value and can be sold for R65-R70 per kilogram. The scrap metal business has become very lucrative with unscrupulous dealers simply buying copper with no questions asked. The stolen copper is then exported to other countries like China and India and the same copper is then procured by the country it has been stolen from.

Last year a joint operation was conducted in conjunction with National and Provincial SAPS. Three dealers were fined for being in possession of bare copper cables and another was found with 1278kg of copper cable and bus bars.

Cable Theft Task Team
The Electricity Unit recognized the need to establish a task team that is dedicated to fighting the scourge of cable theft. The task team was established in 2009 and has since been conducting investigations into cable theft, apprehending suspects and confiscating stolen copper cable. The SAPS arrests suspects and are then taken to court where the case is heard and suspects either sentenced or released, depending on the merit of the case.
In the last year the task team has discovered an astounding 2056 kilograms of stolen cable.

Here’s what to look out for:
  • Criminals posing as contractors working for eThekwini Electricity, removing cables illegally
  • A substantial amount of theft takes place late at night or  very early in the morning so if you see “contractors” removing cables at these odd times, regard it as suspicious
  • Individuals walking around with cutting tools
  • People removing overhead cables without a job card from eThekwini Municipality
  • Suspicious vehicles like bakkies, trucks and minibuses with occupants pretending to conduct electrical work
  • No signage on the vehicle
  • Warning boards: Make sure you query by calling the Electricity Call Centre


  • Do not approach suspects
  • Report suspicious activity to Electricity’s call centre, SAPS or Metro Emergency Line
  • Monitor the movements and details of people and vehicles. Note the vehicle registration, description of personal and clothing


  • Electricity’s call centre 080 13 13 111
  • Cable Theft Hotline 031 311 9611
  • SAPS 10111
  • Metro Emergency Line 031 361 0000

Please click here to download zero tolerance on cable theft