While the ongoing theft of copper cable continues to cost the economy billions of rand a year, government says it has placed tightening laws to deal with the problem high on its agenda.
“The high prevalence of cable theft, in particular copper theft, and its consequences, has become a major concern throughout the metros and towns,” cooperative governance minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.
In a written reply to a parliamentary question, he said theft of the metal from public infrastructure “costs the economy billions of rands”.
Reports suggest copper cable theft is costing the country between R5bn and R16bn a year, with tens of thousands of instances of the crime taking place in South Africa’s economic heartland, Gauteng.
In his reply, Gordhan did not put any figure on the extent of the problem.
“The state security [department] would provide the extent of the problem in due course, not only in metros, but throughout the country.”
He said his ministry, together with justice and correctional services, state security, and public enterprises, as well as the South African Police Service, had formed a working group to identify and make proposals to deal with the matter.
Current legislation did not adequately address the problem. “It only imposes obligations on dealers in second hand goods and provides for various prohibitions. The discussion of the working group … has placed the issue of the legislation dealing with cable theft high on the agenda.”
Gordhan said particular attention was being paid to the Second Hand Goods Act “as an instrument, which deals with the possession of the cable once it has been stolen, to deal also with the actual stealing”. — Sapa