SAPS of­fi­cers held for al­leged ca­ble theft

City Power in bid to in­vest in alu­minium wires in or­der to dis­cour­age thieves

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - BEN­JAMIN DIN @ben­ja­mindin

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.

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