Cape Town boosts capacity to fight against copper theft

Public infrastructure, most notably Metrorail, is extremely vulnerable to cable theft, which perpetrators sell off as scrap metal.

FILE: Stolen copper cables. Picture: SAPS

CAPE TOWN - Cape Town has strengthened its fight against copper theft, by familiarising its metal theft unit (MTU) with a new law.

Public infrastructure, most notably Metrorail, is extremely vulnerable to cable theft, which perpetrators sell off as scrap metal.

It's the job of the MTU to locate and arrest these suspects, but they've had to work with a very limited law enforcement capacity.

Earlier this year, the national police commissioner extended the power of groups like the MTU to enforce the Second-Hand Goods Act, which means they may now conduct search and seizure operations on private properties.

The City of Cape Town’s JP Smith says that the unit has now successfully completed its training on how to use these new-found powers.

“The Criminal Matters Amendment Act has given us some hope because it allows for sentences of up to 30 years for people convicted of tampering with essential infrastructure. The additional powers under the Second-Hand Goods Act will also allow our staff to act more decisively against scrap dealers.”

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)