Alleged cable thieves must be charged with economic sabotage - Mbalula

Police seized the aluminium cables in the North West earlier this week.

FILE: Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula at a media briefing on 16 March 2020. Picture: Sethembiso Zulu/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula on Thursday said he wanted those arrested in the latest cable theft case involving R10 million worth of the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa’s (Prasa) cables to be charged with economic sabotage.

Police seized the aluminum cables in the North West earlier this week.

Prasa had recorded an alarming increase in the number of cases of infrastructure vandalism involving overhead electrical lines, electrical substations, as well as station buildings.

Mbalula said government was working closely with police to dismantle the crime syndicates responsible for that.

“We continue to work closely with the Justice Crime Prevention and Security Cluster to ensure that we eliminate these syndicates. Those who get arrested must be charged, convicted, and receive the highest sentence.

“This will not only deter other criminals but will ensure our work to fix Prasa is not derailed. We have the law on our side, it must be used,” he said in a statement.

The minister’s spokesperson Ayanda-Allie Paine said a strong message needed to be sent.

“The Criminal Matters Amendment Act, which commenced on 1 June 2016, defines essential infrastructure as any installation, structure, facility or system, whether publicly or privately owned, and states that the loss or damage of, or the tampering with, which may interfere with the provision or distribution of basic service to the public, is economic sabotage,” she said.