Cable thieves will appear early December

The three suspects that were caught red handed by police for possession of stolen copper will appear in court again early December.

On November 15, the three suspects, Lucky Hlaze (26), Ndabusukile Soko (36), and Innocent Mbambo (36) appeared before the Kriel Magistrates Court for theft of copper/aluminium cabling, the case was postponed for further investigations to December 6 and the suspects remain in custody.

The suspects were arrested on November 8 along the R544 between eMalahleni and Ga-Nala, when the Hyundai bakkie they were travelling in was stopped by Eskom’s national contractor staff, who noticed that the suspects’ vehicle was loaded with copper.

A bakkie loaded with suspected stolen copper

Gen Wilson Kekana conducted the arrest after the suspects were confronted and requested to provide proof of purchase for the copper and were unable to provide the necessary documentation. The three suspects were found in possession of at least 550kg of stolen cabling.

Theft of Eskom infrastructure, including copper cables, overhead lines, transformers, and conductors, among others, remains a serious concern for the power utility.

Eskom, along with other state-owned entities such as Transnet, Telkom, and municipalities, is plagued by infrastructure theft, with the value of material stolen remaining a serious concern, as it is indicative of organised, syndicate-driven criminal activity in the copper theft environment.

While copper theft costs the economy between R5-billion and R7-billion a year, Eskom spends in the region of R2-billion a year on the replacement of stolen copper cables.

However, there is hope that this crime will ultimately cease to exist, as the courts have started to take copper theft seriously. This is evident in the form of significant sentences that are being handed out to perpetrators.

In addition to tougher sentences, of the 8 988 cable theft incidents reported between 2012 and 2016, 1 159 arrests were made. This indicates that something is being done to avert this crime. With improved legislation and tougher sentences, the power utility believes that the theft and vandalism of critical network infrastructure will ultimately cease.

Copper thief nabbed
Suspects in jail because of copper theft

Trevor Aingworth

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