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Hill-Lewis calls on SAPS and State Intelligence to join forces in fighting cable-theft

Back in May, Belhar police arrested five suspects stealing cables in Stellenbosch arterial road near Delft. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Back in May, Belhar police arrested five suspects stealing cables in Stellenbosch arterial road near Delft. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 24, 2022

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Cape Town - Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis has called on the SAPS crime intelligence unit and the State Security Agency to join efforts with the City to tackle the growing metal theft trade.

Hill-Lewis made the call after accompanying the City’s Metal Theft Unit (MTU) on on-site visits to various scrapyards across Bellville.

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He said while the City was working hard to rein-in rampant cable theft and safeguard essential infrastructure, bringing burgeoning cable theft to an end required a more conjoined approach.

“Metal theft is now organised crime. We need our intelligence services to help us break down these criminal networks and take down the operations thoroughly.

“That’s why we need all parties to come to the table to ensure that we not only make arrests but that the justice system executes tougher penalties for those caught stealing or destroying public infrastructure,” Hill-Lewis said.

Earlier this month, the City’s Energy Department set aside R40 million to go towards preventing vandalism of critical energy infrastructure, boosting patrols in hot spot areas and including permanent security deployments at strategic sites.

Hill-Lewis said: “Vandalism of electricity infrastructure remains a big challenge across the city, affecting residents the most. Cable theft is also crippling the City’s infrastructure, as well as rail.

“There has been a 97% reduction in train usage in the metro, which is almost exclusively attributed to pervasive and persistent cable theft.”

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Safety and security Mayco member JP Smith said: “There is also a severe impact on the City’s own operations, with millions lost each year due to metal theft and the replacement of items, including manhole covers, fire hydrants and water meters.

Smith said the funding used to restore and replace stolen cable was money that could be spent on improving basic services across the metropole.

Between January 1 and June 19 this year, the City’s MTU arrested 294 suspects for allegedly stealing cables or damage to public infrastructure.

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The City has also turned to offering monetary rewards to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest or the confiscation of stolen or illegal goods.

This after it noted an uptake in the number of communities falling victim to not only cable theft but electricity vandalism and illegal connections.

In Mfuleni, officials attended to more than 72 faults in the community from June 1 to 21, and in Hout Bay, the City’s Water and Sanitation Department had to dispatch a team to tend to the vandalised North Shore sewer pump station in Harbour Road.

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Police in Vredenburg recently arrested two suspects for the possession of 302kg of copper cable. A Transnet employee identified the loot, valued at around R91 000.

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Cape Argus

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