Five copper cable thieves sentenced to 1 250 years in Cape court
JOHANNESBURG: Power utility Eskom says it hopes the cumulative 1 250-year sentence meted out to five copper cable thieves will send a strong message to criminals.
The power utility said the five suspects were found guilty of 50 counts of copper theft-related at the Cape Town High Court last week.
They had stolen copper cables which belonged to both Eskom and Telkom.
The copper cables were stolen between 2016 and 2018 in the Namaqualand and Western Cape regions.
Two other people who were charged alongside the five accused were found guilty posthumously as they died during the trial.
Eskom’s Acting Head of Security, advocate Karen Pillay, said they hoped the sentence would send a strong message to those who were involved in cable and copper theft, which badly damages the power utility’s infrastructure.
“We hope that the hefty sentences meted out shall send a strong message to all potential thieves to refrain from targeting Eskom overhead and underground conductor cables.
“We shall work fearlessly and tirelessly with other industry role-players and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all thieves involved in essential infrastructure crimes face the full might of the law,” said Pillay.
In January last year, the power utility said copper theft cost the economy R5-7 billion a year and Eskom spent about R2bn a year replacing stolen cables.
The power utility has had to spend millions in security at hot spots in an effort to curb cable theft, which ultimately led to power outages and compromised the supply of electricity.
“Section 3 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act stipulates that any person found guilty of essential infrastructure crime such as cable theft shall be liable on conviction to a period of imprisonment up to 30 years,” said Pillay.
Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa, while speaking during his State of the Nation Address last week, said crimes such as cable theft, construction site disruptions and land invasions, hamper the economic activity and discourage investment in the country.
He called on law enforcement agencies to treat those crimes seriously as they hamper the economy.
Ramaphosa said the government would continue to take steps to combat crimes such as cable theft, railway infrastructure vandalism, land invasions, construction site disruptions and the attacks on truck drivers.
He said these crimes hampered economic activity and discouraged investment in the local economy.
“Crime and violence continues to undermine people’s sense of safety and security. Tackling crime is central to the success of our recovery.
“Crimes like cable theft, railway infrastructure vandalism, land invasions, construction site disruptions and attacks on truck drivers hamper economic activity and discourage investment.
“We have taken steps and will continue to stop these crimes and deal with those responsible in terms of the law,” said Ramaphosa.
He said the task teams had been set up in a number of provinces to deal with extortion and violence on sites of economic activity.
“We are also fast-tracking the implementation and capacitation of the Border Management Agency to curb illegal immigration and cross-border crime,” he said.