The Hawks in Gauteng say the high demand for copper and the lucrative prices it offers is fueling the vandalism of the country’s electricity network.
This emerged on the second day of the Johannesburg Energy Indaba in Sandton north of Johannesburg.
The vandalism of electricity infrastructure including the theft of copper cables has been blamed for plunging South Africa into darkness.
Perpetrators are said to be part of a syndicate that is heavily armed.
The Hawks Head in Gauteng, Major-General Ebrahim Kadwa, says many people are being charged and perpetrators sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
“Most of the copper is sent into international markets. The International Trade & Administration Commission (Itac) has strictly controlled the issuing of export permits. But regarding copper cables the current policy … permits are [still] issued. But what the bad guy [copper cable thieves] is doing, is working with complicit shipping companies. They are able to manipulate the customs declaration code and would give it [to] a scrap metal instead of copper products,” says Kadwa.
The video below is reporting on the impact of cable theft in the Johannesburg:
Earlier this month, SABC News reported that cable thieves were now targetting affluent suburban areas in and around Tshwane.
Residents from several country estates and residential complexes as well as business owners are up in arms over incessant power outages caused by the cable theft.
They say, “We’ve been gathering for the past couple of days because of the serious issues that we faced as a community. One of the biggest issues will be one of cable theft, lack of electricity and sometimes it’s cable theft. We sometimes don’t have electricity for two days. Or once a week.”
Meanwhile, Eldorado Park residents added that they are suffering the same fate and have accused local scrapyards of encouraging cable theft by buying it from criminals.
Eldorado Park residents suspect organised syndicate in recent spate of cable theft: