SAPS zone in on copper cable thieves

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 12 Jan 2023

The South African Police Service (SAPS) says its Essential Infrastructure Task Team has intensified the war against copper cable theft, to ensure that cable thieves are nabbed, amid the rising spate of theft incidents in recent weeks.

According to the SAPS, the multi-disciplinary task team which was established last July to solely focus on preventing and combatting theft and damage to essential infrastructure, has arrested almost 200 suspects since inception.

Copper cable theft affects electricity supplies, water supplies, telecommunications and trains, with SOEs such as Eskom, Telkom and Transnet, and local telecoms operators reporting losses running in the tens of millions of rands.

According to the SAPS, five men accused of copper cable theft worth R5 million appeared briefly before the Christiana Magistrate’s Court in North West, on a charge of possession of suspected stolen property yesterday.

The court appearance stems from their arrest on Sunday, after police searched their Volkswagen mini bus on the N12, and found copper cables, brass and tools, including a bolt cutter and iron saw.

All five accused were immediately arrested and charged with possession of suspected stolen property. They have all been remanded in custody until their next appearance at the same court next Thursday, as investigation into the matter continues.

More arrests

Meanwhile, City Power CEO Tshifularo Mashava has welcomed the arrest of six people who were in possession of stolen copper cables in Johannesburg. The six were arrested on Tuesday night during a swoop on a warehouse in the Cleveland area.

They were in possession of 247 KG of copper cables and copper bits from mini sub-stations and transformers believed to have been stolen in Steeldale, City Deep area in recent weeks.

"We welcome the sterling work by City Power security, and the whole Essential Infrastructure Task Team in ensuring that cable thieves are arrested and harshly dealt with," says Mashava.

"We lose millions of rands annually because of the scourge and this really impacts on our operations as an electricity entity as most of the outages we deal with on a daily basis are due to cable theft and vandalism. We will, in conjunction with our law enforcement stakeholders, intensify the operations in the hotspot areas, including Roodepoort where we have really been under siege recently."

Furthermore, the Upington Border Police members also arrested a 52-year-old owner of a tuck shop in Rosedale yesterday.

According to the police, the man was found with 136KGs of stolen copper cables and various copper taps, fittings and pipes to the estimated value of R 25 000 at the premises.

Different types of electrical tools which include grinders, drills and extension cords to the estimated value of R20 000 were also found at the tuck shop. He is expected to appear in court soon.