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Task teams set up to clamp down cable theft

Police minister Bheki Cele said there was intention to establish specialised multi-disciplinary economic units upon the completion of work study investigation that will determine the placement, responsibilities and resources. Picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA)

Police minister Bheki Cele said there was intention to establish specialised multi-disciplinary economic units upon the completion of work study investigation that will determine the placement, responsibilities and resources. Picture: Bheki Radebe/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Jun 27, 2022

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Cape Town - Police Minister Bheki Cele said multi-disciplinary specialist task teams are being set up and piloted in 18 identified districts across the country to clamp down on theft of economic infrastructure and illegal mining.

Cele revealed this when he was responding to parliamentary questions from Freedom Front Plus leader Piet Groenewald who asked if the SAPS intended to establish specialist units to protect infrastructure in the light of theft of cables.

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In his written response, Cele said there was intention to establish specialised multi-disciplinary economic units upon the completion of work study investigation that will determine the placement, responsibilities and resources.

The work study investigation is expected to be concluded at the end of this year and then implemented in the following financial year.

Cele also said while the finalisation of the work study investigation was awaited, task teams will be established in the meantime.

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“These task teams are to be established in 18 identified districts across all provinces. These task teams will be piloted for a period not exceeding two years and reviewed after a period of 18 months,” he said.

The task teams will consist of experienced members drawn from the visible policing and operations, crime intelligence and detective services to focus on damage to and theft of economic infrastructure, extortion at construction sites and illegal mining.

“The number of specialised units to be established in this environment is dependent on the outcome of the work study investigation,” he said.

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Last month, Cele told Parliament that crimes of infrastructure and extortion of private enterprises would not be allowed to go on unabated.

He said at the time the multi-disciplinary task teams would focus on extortion at construction sites and businesses and illegal mining.

“The highly skilled teams will tackle theft of non-ferrous metals, copper cables and put in measures to combat and stop illegal mining,” he said.

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Responding to separate questions from DA MP Haseena Ismail, Cele said there were 48 members from the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (DPCI) responsible for investigating precious metals and diamond related crime.

Ismail had enquired whether Cele intended to introduce or amend legislation to criminalise illegal mining.

The minister said mining was regulated by the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Act.

“Illicit mining must be addressed through enforcement of the act and gaps in that regard must be addressed by the relevant minister.

“The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has been alerted by the Minister of Police on certain shortcomings which need to be addressed through amendment to the Minerals and Petroleum Resources Act and the Precious Metals Act.”

Meanwhile, Trade and Industry Minister Ebrahim Patel said his department will have developed and tabled a draft policy on scrap metal by the end of July.

Patel said the policy would introduce a blend of domestic and export measures to address illegal trade in copper cable and scrap metal.

“Research has been completed and Cabinet has been briefed on the overall strategy. A document setting out the draft policy is being developed and will be published for public comment shortly,” he said.

Cape Times

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