Police Minister Bheki Cele says the economic infrastructure task teams set up to crack down on the construction mafia, corruption and sabotage at Eskom and other related crimes will be converted into fully operational units this year.
The government set up 20 economic infrastructure task teams in 2022 to fight these crimes.
President Cyril Ramaphosa had made the announcement during the State of the Nation Address in 2021 that specialised units will be established to deal with the criminal elements in various sectors of the economy.
Cele said specialised units were established to ensure police were able to deal with threats to the economy.
“Within the visible policing capability, specialised intervention units provide the SAPS with unique crime combating capabilities, that have proven to be indispensable, including the Public Order Policing, Tactical Response Teams, National Intervention Units and Special Force Task Units.
“In addition, 20 economic infrastructure task teams were established throughout the country, with 18 having been established at district level and two at provincial level.
“The economic infrastructure task teams have been operational since June 1, 2022 and will be converted into fully functional units in 2024.
“The SAPS also intends establishing the following visible policing specialised capabilities to improve service delivery in the visible policing environment: Highway Patrol Units, Motorbike Units, Water Policing and Diving Services and Hostage Negotiation,” said Cele, who was replying to a written parliamentary question from IFP MP Zandile Majozi.
In the work done by the SAPS they have roped in a number of stakeholders. This includes Transnet, Eskom and Telkom.
The economy has been under threat following the increase in copper theft.
Transnet has lost billions of rand through cable theft. Eskom has also faced serious challenges with incidences of copper theft, sabotage and corruption.
Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel has said copper theft costs the economy more than R45 billion.
Cele said the measures taken to deal with infrastructure crimes were a collaborative effort.
“In all of the interventions, the SAPS partnered with relevant internal and external stakeholders, for example state-owned entities such as Eskom, Telkom, Transnet, Gautrain as well as other government departments, such as the National Prosecuting Authority and private stakeholders such as Business Against Crime and the SA Revenue Protection Association,” said Cele.