Four men and a teenager, who are Mozambican nationals, are appearing before the Delmas Magistrate’s Court on charges of damaging essential infrastructure.
The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (also known as Hawks) in Mpumalanga said the five accused were caught red-handed stealing Transnet’s overhead cables in Delmas.
The five are continuing with their bail application after being remanded in custody by the court.
Spokesperson for the Hawks in Mpumalanga, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi, listed the five men as Joshua Mavia Mapendani, 34, Sizwe Rinze Masasane, 27, Themba Swele, 27, and Lino Matchave, 23.
They were with a 14-year-old boy whose name IOL has withheld because he is a minor.
“The five foreign nationals, aged between 14 and 34, were arrested for damaging of essential infrastructure and contravening the Immigration Act,” said Sekgotodi.
"It is alleged that on Sunday, September, 10, 2023, at about 2pm, members of the Hawks serious organised crime investigation unit based in Middelburg were contacted by Transnet with information regarding a group of suspects who were planning to steal Transnet overhead cables in Delmas," she said.
A law enforcement team was then set up, and it conducted a disruptive operation in the area.
"During the operation, the five foreign nationals were found busy cutting the Transnet overhead cables.
"The suspects were arrested, and the exhibits, which include overhead cable to the value of R3 million, a bolt cutter, and an Isuzu bakkie to the value of R150,000 were seized for further investigation," said Sekgotodi.
In June, a man who was arrested in Bloemfontein CBD for possession of copper cables worth R11 000 was sentenced to 15 years in jail.
The copper cables were confirmed to be stolen from the Transnet train yard, and Ntsokolo Motoale, 32, was sentenced to 15 years direct imprisonment on June 9, 2023, by the Bloemfontein Regional Court for tampering with infrastructure and possession of suspected stolen property.
On November 19, 2022, at about 3am, the Parkweg police officers were on patrol in the CBD when they saw a man carrying a heavy bag and freshly cut wires.
"Members stopped the accused and discovered that he had suspected copper cables in his possession worth an estimated amount of R11,000 and were confirmed to be stolen from the Transnet train yard," police spokesperson Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli said.
“The 32-year-old was arrested for possession of suspected stolen property and tampering with infrastructure,” Kareli said.