Police in Kimberley have arrested a man who allegedly had more than 1 000kg of stolen copper cable in his possession.
The man, aged 46, was apparently trying to sell the copper at a local metal scrapyard in the Northern Cape capital when officers from the Francis Baard Cluster Task Team followed up on information received and located the suspect and his haul of cable.
The haul weighed in at a total of 1 074kg and has an estimated street value of R98 000.
“Preliminary investigation revealed that the copper was reported stolen a week ago at a solar plant in Upington. The suspect is expected to appear before Kimberley Magistrates’ Court on Monday 6 July,” a police spokesperson said.
eThekwini says its copper cable loss is R60-million
According to the eThekwini Municipality, South Africa is facing a “major problem” with copper theft.
“The estimated loss due to copper theft is approximately R5-billion per year with eThekwini Electricity contributing R60-million to that loss.
It has an impact on the City’s communication network, electricity supply, and railway and traffic services,” it says in a statement on its website.
Significant increase in theft, says city of Cape Town
Copper theft is a concern in most parts of South Africa. In Cape Town, the city’s law enforcement authorities said in January that they were seeing a significant increase in copper theft.
According to an IOL Online report, the city made 83 arrests between January and December 2019.
Cape Town has a Metal Theft Unit (MTU) which targets a large number of known hotspots, among them Bishop Lavis, Bloekombos, Claremont, Eastridge and Elsies River.
Chamber puts annual loss to economy at up to R7-billion
A statement posted by the City of Cape Town on its website says copper cables are mainly stolen from the mines, Transnet, Telkom, Eskom and municipalities.
“The South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry estimate that cable theft cost the economy between R5billion and R7-billion per year,” it says. “Cable theft has a big impact on crucial services like public transport, electricity, telephone and internet. When cables are stolen from the rail system, trains are delayed and cancelled because the infrastructure is badly damaged.”