Five criminals, who were found guilty on 50 counts of copper cable theft involving infrastructure owned by Telkom and Eskom, have been sentenced to a combined 1 250 years in jail.
Eskom said on Thursday that the high court in Cape Town handed down the tough sentences last week. The shortest jail term metered out to “some” of the thieves is a minimum sentence of 15 years, the utility said in a statement. However, two of the accused died during the trial and were found guilty posthumously.
Rampant copper theft severely affects the ability of the two companies to provide services to consumers and often leads to telecommunications and power interruptions.
The copper cables were stolen between 2016 and 2018 in the Namaqualand and Western Cape regions, Eskom said.
“We hope that the hefty sentences meted out will send a strong message to all potential thieves to refrain from targeting Eskom overhead and underground conductor cables. We will work fearlessly and tirelessly with other industry role players and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all thieves involved in essential infrastructure crimes face the full might of the law,” said Eskom acting head of security Karen Pillay in the statement.
“Section 3 of the Criminals Matters Amendment Act stipulates that any person found guilty of essential infrastructure crime such as cable theft shall be liable on conviction to a period of imprisonment of up to 30 years,” said Pillay. — © 2021 NewsCentral Media