Mashaba declares war on copper thieves

Copper theft is increasing.

Johannesburg’s executive mayor vowed to work with law enforcement to offer a reward to persons who provide information that leads to the arrest and prosecution of cable thieves who struck on September 4.

The mayor, Clr Herman Mashaba, made this announcement after cable thieves in the inner city stole copper cables and plunged a large area of Johannesburg into darkness.

The cables were taken from underground tunnels running under the streets.

“We must be clear that these cable thieves operate in organised crime syndicates. To combat this, the city will be introducing a specialised JMPD unit. The unit will target these syndicates that deal in stolen copper cables. Combatting these syndicates effectively requires a professional approach by a dedicated unit who have the necessary knowledge, skills and networks,” said Mashaba.

He said the JMPD unit would ensure that the thieves who steal copper cables will be left with no choice but to find it easier to operate anywhere other than Johannesburg.

“The criminals who steal our copper cable sabotage our economy and our city, leaving businesses and homes in the dark. It is costing ratepayers a fortune because thieves are robbing resources meant for service delivery. It is estimated that 45 per cent of the power outages in the city are caused by cable theft,” he said.

In an effort to combat cable theft, City Power has initiated a process of replacing copper conductor cables with aluminum conductor cables.

Mashaba said criminals target copper cables by digging them up to sell to scrap metal dealers, but aluminum has little to no street value.

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

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Mbavhalelo Malofha

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