Behind bars. Picture credit: Clipart Kid
Behind bars. Picture credit: Clipart Kid

On Tuesday, Eskom said that its battle to combat copper theft is starting to see its efforts paying off.

Last week, four men were arrested in Orkney in the North West for being in possession of stolen copper cable.

Their arrest followed a tip-off received by Eskom’s investigations team about the occupants of a maroon BMW vehicle who were in possession of stripped copper cable that they were trying to sell at an industrial site.

The four suspects could not provide a reasonable explanation for the 16 rolls of stripped copper cable in their possession and they were arrested and handed over to the Orkney SAPS who were also present at the scene, the utility said in a statement.

Copper theft: Western Cape

In the Western Cape, four men narrowly escaped death recently when they were shocked by electricity while trying to steal an electricity cable in rainy weather in Tulbagh. Read more…

They sustained severe burns to their bodies, leaving one of them in severe pain at the Ceres Provincial Hospital.

According to the parastatal, a rope, hacksaw and gloves belonging to the suspects were found on the scene.

Copper theft: Gauteng

Meanwhile, four members of an electricity theft syndicate, including the 58 year-old Jeanette Chiliza and her 25 year-old son Nqobile from De Deur, south of Johannesburg, face jail time after probation officers recommended direct imprisonment for all four.

They were convicted in December 2016 by the Palm Ridge Regional Court on 16 452 counts related to electricity theft.

The case was subsequently moved for sentencing to the South Gauteng High Court, which can hand down a life-sentence in such cases.

The probation officers, who testified before the High Court on 23 and 24 March 2017, cited the seriousness of the offence as the main reason for their recommendation.

Eskom, along with other state-owned entities such as Transnet, Telkom, and municipalities, is plagued by infrastructure theft, with the value of material stolen remaining a serious concern, as it is indicative of organised, syndicate-driven criminal activity related to copper theft. Read more…

Tebogo Rakau, divisional executive for security at Eskom, said: “There is hope, however, that this crime will ultimately cease to exist. The courts have started to take copper theft seriously. This is evident from significant sentences that are being handed down to perpetrators.”

In addition to tougher sentences, of the 8,988 cable theft incidents reported between 2012 and 2016, 1,159 arrests were made, indicating that something is being done to avert this crime.

 

Featured image: Clipart Kid