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Copper may join precious metals group to stop cable theft

It limits government’s ability to roll out basic services, such as water and sanitation.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Andries Nel believes the theft of public infrastructure is having devastating consequences for the country.

Nel says it limits government's ability to roll out basic services, such as water and sanitation, because the theft of cables very often cuts off the pumps.

"It also means that there's a lot of public resources that should be going into providing people with more services which are now having to be channelled to replacing or repairing existing infrastructure. It has devastating consequences for transport and telecommunications infrastructure but also very crucial social infrastructure such as education and health are undermined by these criminals."

Nel says the government is taking the matter extremely seriously and has amended the Second-hand Goods Act, to strengthen legislation around cable theft.

"Unfortunately those arrests are not always translating into more convictions and I think more importantly into heavy sentences. Because what happens is that powerful syndicates are behind these criminal activities that get small time criminals to steal a metre or two of cable."

The deouty minister also mentioned that government was looking to make changes to legislation to make copper a precious metal.

"There are some proposals centred around shifting the onus to people who are in possession of copper and other metals to explain why they're in possession of things like that."

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