WATCH: City arrests copper cable thieves following call for public assistance

A TEAM led by the city’s group forensic investigation department, consisting of the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD, City Power engineers and the SAPS, arrested two scrapyard owners on September 6 for the possession of copper cables stolen from the Johannesburg inner city on September 5.

The cable theft had plunged a large portion of the City into darkness. The cables were taken from underground tunnels running under the streets.

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City of Johannesburg executive mayor, Clr Herman Mashaba said the arrests were made following a tip-off from a member of the public to the city’s group forensic department.

“Upon investigation, three drums loaded with the stolen copper cables were located at the scrapyard and identified by City Power engineers as the stolen cables. The owners of the scrapyard could not account for the stolen cables, which according to workers on site, had arrived earlier today. It is alleged that more of the stolen copper cables are at two other scrapyards in Robertsville. One of the scrapyard owners also allegedly attempted to bribe the City and law enforcement officials with R10 000 in exchange for their silence. Unfortunately for the suspect, the officials could not be swayed.

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“I would like to thank the public for answering the city’s call and stepping forward with information leading to this arrest. The expansive footprint of the utility’s network makes it very difficult to safeguard all the installations and the city relies on the co-operation of the communities we serve to report incidents of theft and vandalism of the electricity infrastructure so that perpetrators can be brought to book.

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“The criminals who steal our copper cables sabotage our economy and our city, leaving businesses and homes in the dark, costing ratepayers a fortune and robbing resources from service delivery. It is estimated that 45 per cent of the power outages in the city is caused by cable theft. I have every faith that the SAPS and other law enforcement agencies will ensure that the perpetrator faces the full might of the law. It is time to send a clear message that crime has no place within our city,” explained Mashaba.

In order to combat the criminal syndicates responsible for cable theft, the city will introduce a specialised JMPD unit whose exclusive focus will be to target these criminals who deal in stolen copper cables. The work of combating these syndicates requires a professional approach of a dedicated unit with the knowledge, skills and networks to be effective.

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“Through the work of this unit, we will ensure that the thieves who steal our copper cables will be left with no choice but to find it easier to operate anywhere other than the City of Johannesburg. In another effort to combat cable theft, City Power has also initiated a process of replacing copper conductor cables with aluminum conductor cables. Criminals target copper cables by digging it up to sell to scrap metal dealers, but aluminum has little to no street value. We plead for our residents’ continued support and patience. The days of criminals operating with impunity are coming to an end,” he said.

Sol Masolo, spokesperson for City Power said their technical team is on a 24-hour basis alert until electricity is restored to all affected residents in the city of Johannesburg.

“The city’s investigation team has so far arrested 22 people (September 7) in connection with the recent cable theft. City Power once more apologizes to all affected customers in the city centre to bear with it while repair work is ongoing,” he said.

Areas still affected by the outage are:

• ABSA Centre

• Carlton Centre

• Section of Selby

• Fox Street

• Main Street

• Marshall Street

• Albert Street

• Lillian Ngoyi Street (Bree Street)

• De Villiers Street

• Rahima Moosa Street (Jeppe Street)

• Pritchard Street

• Von Brandis

• Commissioner Street

• End Street

• Kerk Street

• Von Wielligh Street

• Helen Joseph Street (President Street)

• Albertina Sisulu Street

• Mooi Street.

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  AUTHOR
Lucky Thusi
Southern COURIER News Editor

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