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Crippling infrastructure: DA establishes task team to help eradicate theft

Some scrap collectors are deliberately breaking off the metal infrastructure at the Crown interchange in the Joburg CBD. Drain covers, lamp post covers and anything metal is being stripped bare. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Africa News Agency(ANA)

Some scrap collectors are deliberately breaking off the metal infrastructure at the Crown interchange in the Joburg CBD. Drain covers, lamp post covers and anything metal is being stripped bare. Picture: Timothy Bernard/Africa News Agency(ANA)

Published May 9, 2022

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Gauteng: The Democratic Alliance has established a task team to prevent the theft of public infrastructure.

The task team's spokesperson and DA Shadow Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry Mat Cuthbert said its role was to combat the ongoing theft of public infrastructure across South Africa.

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"The governing party has failed to protect these public infrastructures and also arrest the criminals behind this movement," he said.

Cuthbert believes infrastructure damage and theft were major contributors to poor service delivery and load-shedding.

"It also holds back our economy significantly. All of our main SOEs like your Transnet, Eskom, Telkom as well as Prasa have said that it has got R187 billion knocked on the economy per annum and that is an amount of money to actually lose as a result of failing to protect our infrastructure," he said.

According to the DA, a joint statement released by Telkom, Eskom, Prasa and Transnet in July 2021, the persistent challenge of cable theft and infrastructure vandalism had lead to a combined direct loss of R7 billion every year.

He however said South Africa was not able to produce or transport goods that needed to drive the economy higher because electrical infrastructure was damaged, "cables are stolen, substations are burned and railways are stripped."

"That is holding us back and it's absolutely detrimental to the economy and it is something that needs to be dealt with quickly," he added.

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Cuthbert said the party would be writing to Parliament’s Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to request an urgent debate on the matter.

He further indicated that the DA task team had developed a set of local, provincial, and national interventions which will help deal with the crisis at hand.

Some of the party's proposed interventions include:

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* Creating a Specialised SAPS Unit

* Setting copper theft reduction targets at parastatals

* Empowering the Non-Ferrous Theft (NFTCC) Combatting Committee through legislation

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* Establishing a reward hotline (as a means to encourage the public to report criminal activities)

* Eradicating the backlog of scrap dealer licences

According to Cuthbert, the task team intended to urgently streamline solutions that will help eradicate the crisis.

"I mean if we fail to protect our infrastructure then our economy will go down. So we need to protect our economic infrastructure to protect our economy," he said.

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