'Cable theft needs to be taken seriously'

Andries Nel says there need to be more convictions and heavier sentences for those guilty of the offence.

FILE: Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel, says cable theft is a growing problem and needs to be dealt with. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Andries Nel, says government can only effectively deal with cable theft if the crime is taken more seriously.

Nel attended the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities conference in Midrand on Monday, where the issue of cable theft featured prominently.

The problem has caused power outages and more recently a water shortage in parts of Gauteng.

The deputy minister says there need to be more convictions and heavier sentences for those found guilty of the offence.

"Those arrests are not always translating into more convictions and I think more importantly, into heavy sentences. There are powerful syndicates that get small town criminals to go and steal."