'Cable thieves must be charged with treason'

JHB Mayor Parks Tau says cable thieves are slowing the country's economic growth.

Broken pylons in Lenasia where power cable were stolen. Picture: Faizel Patel via Twitter.

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg Mayor Parks Tau says people found stealing electricity cables should be charged with treason because they are slowing the country's economic growth and gambling with people's lives.

Tau has announced an extensive investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption against City of Johannesburg employees, who have been colluding with private businesses to defraud the city of millions of rand worth of electricity.

The mayor also revealed the fraud resulted in the loss of R200 million last month alone.

He says the 20 people arrested for 109 cases of fraud and corruption were allegedly involved in the manipulation of property evaluations, rates, smart metres as well as illegal electricity and water connections.

Tau has called for stringent regulations to deal effectively with cable thieves, which he says are crippling the economy.

"We need legislation that deals with it literally as a treasonable crime, so that you say 'but this is treason'."

He's declined to mention which companies were involved in fraudulent activities but says more arrests can be expected in the next two weeks.