Johannesburg – The Gauteng legislature’s Portfolio Committee on Community Safety says that there is widespread vandalism and theft of critical state infrastructure around the country and in Gauteng in particular.
The committee said the persistent increase in theft of cables, electricity poles, traffic lights and railway infrastructure, and vandalism of state-owned hospitals, clinics, schools and police vehicles in Gauteng was concerning.
“Furthermore, the committee also notes the disturbing video doing the rounds on social media, in which suspected criminals are allegedly stealing cables in broad daylight and in the presence of police officers. This theft and vandalism, besides it occurring in front of police officers, also occurs in public in front of citizens, without them taking appropriate actions of reporting these incidents. This signals the freedom enjoyed by criminals in their foul pursuits, their gross disregard for the law and other fellow citizens, and the impact of their actions on society,” it said.
The committee said a full report on the incidents shown in the video and the measures to be taken to address and curb the recurrence of such incidents was awaited.
“South Africa is currently dealing with the devastating economic effects of Covid-19 and the further impact of load shedding on businesses and communities. The theft and vandalism of critical state infrastructure worsen the current economic hardships facing South Africans daily. State infrastructure has a strategic role to play in the economic recovery and growth that South Africa currently needs. Any damage or theft of infrastructure amounts to economic sabotage, and perpetrators should get the harshest sentence,” it added.
The committee further called on civil society, the business community, faith-based organisations, and private security companies to join forces with law enforcement agencies in bringing an end to this widespread economic sabotage.
“Suspected vandalism or theft of state infrastructure should be immediately reported to law enforcement agencies. Furthermore, businesses such as scrap metal collectors and smelters who buy stolen infrastructure from unregistered traders and thieves should also be reported to curb market demand for stolen infrastructure. The committee will, as part of its oversight responsibility, call the Gauteng MEC for Community Safety and the provincial police commissioner to appear before it and give a detailed account on the theft and vandalism of critical state infrastructure. They will present plans to put an end to these criminal acts,” said the committee.