Telkom says it is winning the war on cable theft, having secured hundreds of convictions for cable theft over the last six years.
As part of a joint effort, working with the South African Police Service (SAPS), the Telkom Security and Investigation Team helped to win convictions for cable theft and infrastructure vandalism at various operations across the country.
This is part of the Telkom Group Security Strategy, to ensure effective security governance and responsive security risk management within the organisation, says the company.
According to a statement, the community also played an important role through tip-offs to police and Telkom reporting hotlines – efforts which have resulted in significantly reduced infrastructure-related crime at Telkom facilities.
“Our partnerships made it possible to achieve great results, helping to turn the tide against crime,” says Sepadi Nkadimeng, executive: corporate security at Telkom.
“Many arrests have been made, but most importantly, we’ve supported the process of driving cases through the courts to get positive convictions.”
From July 2017 to December 2023, a total of 3 003 suspects were successfully apprehended.
This led to the successful conviction of 523 accused individuals so far. The collective sentences handed down amount to 2 594 years of imprisonment.
In addition to the convictions, a further 311 accused individuals have warrants of arrests issued against them, while 1 126 accused individuals are awaiting trial.
The Economic Sabotage of Critical Infrastructure Forum − a joint working group between Telkom, Eskom, Prasa and Transnet − estimated the economic damage caused by copper theft costs the country R7 billion every year, with a wider economic impact closer to R187 billion.
“It costs Telkom tens of millions of rand every year to replace stolen or vandalised cables, as well as batteries stolen from cellphone towers. On top of this, Telkom budgets even larger amounts for security to protect its assets,” says Telkom.
“South Africa’s courts have taken a zero-tolerance approach to cable theft and infrastructure vandalism. Extremely tough jail sentences have been imposed on convicted offenders.”
During the period of July 2017 to December 2023, cases were opened against 2 549 individuals, and Telkom collaborated with key role-players inside and outside Telkom to monitor these.
This includes supporting the National Prosecuting Authority on every case, with Telkom’s team of investigators attending every court appearance, testifying and providing evidence as required, says the telecoms company.
One of the most significant sentences occurred during 2023 in the Western Cape, where a syndicate group was successfully dismantled through collaborative efforts by SAPS, Telkom and the community.
The syndicate was implicated in cases of theft, racketeering and money-laundering in a joint operation, notes Telkom.
The legal proceedings resulted in the successful conviction of all five accused syndicate members, who were successfully convicted and sentenced to terms ranging from 18 to 83 years of imprisonment, culminating in a combined sentence of 210 years.
“We are extremely proud of the results that have been achieved,” adds Nkadimeng.
“These successes show the key to winning the fight against infrastructure theft and vandalism is collaboration with the community and across industries. We must work together to beat crime.”