File picture: Chris Collingridge/Independent Media

Pietermaritzburg - Nineteen members of an alleged copper theft syndicate appeared in the Pietermaritzburg Regional Court on Tuesday.

They could face charges of sabotage in addition to the charges they already faced, the court heard.

Prosecutor Annelie Harrison told the court her national directorate would be asked for authority to charge the accused of sabotage in terms of the Internal Security Act.

Harrison said the charges against the accused in more than 20 dockets dealing with copper and other thefts would be correlated.

Most of the 19 men were arrested in KwaZulu-Natal, but some also faced charges in other provinces, the court heard.

The group included Zimbabwean and Mozambican nationals.

During the multiple arrests across KwaZulu-Natal, police found stolen cables worth thousands of rands and five cars.

“Cable recovered during four arrests near Pietermaritzburg had cost Eskom R720 000 to replace. This cable would have fetched R72 000 as scrap,” Inspector Nico Smith of the Pietermaritzburg police told the court.

The matter was postponed to October 24.