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Cable Theft Crippling Productivity
The continuous surge of cable theft is crippling the productivity of crucial services such as public transport, electricity, telephone and the internet. For the freight and logistics sector, cable theft is a costly issue compelling Transnet, in partnership with the City, various stakeholders and law enforcement units to implement more stringent measure to apprehend perpetrators.

The country is facing a major problem with copper theft, which 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.

In September this year, Cabinet condemned the ongoing damage and destruction to public infrastructure urging all South Africans to help curb cable theft, vandalism and report any related unlawful activity. Cabinet has gone through great lengths to explain that public infrastructure is the cornerstone of driving South Africa’s economy. When cables are stolen from the rail system, trains are delayed and cancelled because the infrastructure is badly damaged. This then has a ripple effect on the supply chain and later will affect the ordinary citizen in terms of the delivery of goods.

The Amendment Act No. 18 of 2015 which was promulgated by the president in June will see those caught stealing ferrous and nonferrous metals behind bars. This includes essential infrastructure such as electricity materials, communication services, railway, transport and the like.

EThekwini Municipality’s Head of Electricity Maxwell Mthembu said the amendment of the Act could deter thieves from tampering with electricity facilities. “Tampering with electricity deprives the public of the provision of service delivery which they have the right to receive. The minimum sentence of three years and maximum of 30 years imprisonment or a fine of R100 million is perfect for such offences,” said Mthembu. 

Due to a significant rise in value, metal has become a much sought-after commodity. People steal cables and sell it to scrap dealers for money or it used for illegal connections. Copper cables also hold a high monetary value and can be sold for between R65 and 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 both the national and provincial South African Police Service. Three dealers were fined for being in possession of bare copper cables and another was found with 1 278kg of copper cable and bus bars.
 
 
 
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