The days of copper cable theft in Joburg are coming to an end

Joburg Executive Mayor, Herman Mashaba vows that the City will not tolerate copper cable theft.

A total of 22 people have been arrested for the possession of suspected stolen copper cables by a team commissioned by the City of Johannesburg’s Group Investigation Department to conduct raids on several scrap yards on 4 September.

The theft occurred in an underground tunnel containing a network of cables, subsequently plunging large parts of the city into darkness.

City Power has, however, provided the assurance that power should be restored over the course of the weekend. “Between now and Saturday, we’ll be replacing damaged and stolen cables and any other infrastructure that is damaged within the underground tunnels,” said City Power spokesperson Sol Masole.

“We hope to finish the work on Friday night going into Saturday morning, with the view that on Saturday morning, we’ll start the process of switching on the areas that are affected. This means that if everything goes well, everybody will be switched on by Saturday morning. If we experience technical difficulties, this process could take an entire weekend.”

Spokesperson for the City’s Group Investigation Department, Lucky Sindane said a tip-off received from a community member pointed to several organised syndicates in and around Johannesburg, leading the team comprising Metro police, City Power engineers and the South African Police Services, to descend on the areas in question.

“We received information that the copper was being held in Langlaagte [west of Johannesburg], where we also arrested 13 workers who are illegal, undocumented immigrants. We also arrested the owner there and charged him with possession of suspected stolen property,” Sindane explained.

“We also received information that two police officers went to another scrap yard in Industria to collect bribe money, but unfortunately we were too late to intercept them. We went to a third and fourth scrap yard in Robertsville [also west of Joburg], where the copper cable had already been cut and packaged, ready to be sold off.

“We also arrested a scrap yard owner in Krugersdorp, where he was charged with bribing a police officer and the possession of suspected stolen property. R15 million has been lost by the City as a result of the copper theft that took place on Sunday.

“We further estimate that 45 per cent of all power cuts in the City is as a result of copper theft. However, we’re happy with the measures that the mayor has implemented. One is to set up a specialised unit to deal with copper cable theft and the other being moving to aluminium, which has little to no value.”

Executive Mayor of Johannesburg, Herman Mashaba praised the efforts by law enforcement as well as the community members who blew the whistle on crime and corruption. “I would like to thank the public for answering the City’s call and stepping forward with information leading to these arrests.

“The expansive footprint of the utility’s network makes it very difficult to safeguard all the installations and the City relies on the cooperation of the communities we serve to report incidents of theft and vandalism of the electricity infrastructure so that perpetrators can be brought to book,” said Mashaba.

“I have every faith that the [police] and other law enforcement agencies will ensure that the perpetrators face the full might of the law. It is time to send a clear message that crime has no place within our city… The days of criminals operating with impunity are coming to an end.”

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  AUTHOR
Tshepiso Mametela
Journalist

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