SAPS officers held for alleged cable theft
City Power in bid to invest in aluminium wires in order to discourage thieves
TWO DIEPKLOOF, Soweto, police officers have been detained after an attempted cable theft over the weekend at Zakariyya Park, near Lenasia.
The two officers – 37-year-old constable and 47-year-old reservist warrant officer – were being held at Lenasia police station along with a civilian believed to be involved in the attempted theft.
Shortly after 7pm on Saturday, City Power security guards approached a group of about five men attempting to steal copper cables. However, the group fled before they could be apprehended, said SAPS provincial spokesperson Captain Mavela Masondo.
“The guards started to observe to see if they would come back,” he said. “It is then that they saw this police car that was not supposed to be in that area.”
The police vehicle, which was outside of its Diepkloof jurisdiction, raised the suspicions of the guards, so they went to find out what it was doing in Zakariyya Park, he said.
The two SAPS officers, along with the civilian, were due to appear at the Lenasia Magistrate’s Court today.
“We really condemn this, as the police,” Masondo said. “We are against corruption, so if our members are found to be involved with corrupt activities, we will not hesitate to arrest them.”
These cable thefts are known to cause outages. In the past month, at least 10 City Power outages have been caused by cable theft, according to status updates from the utility’s Twitter account.
In an effort to discourage cable thieves, City Power hopes to invest in aluminium cables, which are not as valuable as copper ones, according to a statement released by the DA.
A report from the Department of Energy said the indirect cost to the economy from the theft of copper cables was estimated at about R5 billion a year.
Cable theft came into play on Thursday, as well, when Metrorail singled it out as the cause of a man’s death that same day when two trains collided at Elandsfontein train station in Germiston.
The collision also left 102 people injured. Gauteng Metrorail acting provincial manager Goodman Matampi told The Star on Thursday that, at the time of the accident, trains were being manually authorised between Olifantsfontein and Elandsfontein due to the theft of signalling power cables.
“The root cause of the collision is cable theft. We really are under siege, and what happened here today is a consequence of cable theft,” said Matampi.
The increase in copper cable theft prompted the cabinet to approve the Criminal Matters Amendment Act in December 2015. It calls for a three-year minimum sentence for firsttime offenders. The second offence results in five years, and third-timers are slapped with a seven-year sentence. Sentences can be as long as 30 years.