Gang steals R1m copper cables
COPPER cabling worth more than R1-million - and stretching across 5km - has been dug up and stolen
The cables were stolen in Dawn, near the Johnson & Johnson factory in East London. There are no houses in the area, making it the perfect spot for thieves to operate inconspicuously at night.
The thieves dug up a long, neatly cornered-off trench to unsheathe the cables from their plastic covering before leaving. It is not known when the cables were stolen.
Buffalo City metro is looking into the appointment of an investigator to scour scrap metal dealers for stolen property in the metro.
East London police spokeswoman Warrant Officer Hazel Mqala said yesterday a case of theft was opened, but had since been closed regarding the cables stolen in Dawn.
"No links or suspects could be found despite there being cables worth a lot of money stolen," she said, adding police suspected a gang but had no evidence to pursue the matter.
She said if new evidence came to light the case would be reopened for further investigation.
Metro spokesman Keith Ngesi said over R2-million worth of cables had been stolen in the area alone.
"This is an escalating international, national and local concern. The international trade market for copper is strong, with countries like China buying most of the available stock on the market," he said.
The spokesman said the market demand on copper cables caused the thefts on Buffalo City's electrical network to escalate.
Ngesi said the Second-Hand Goods Act would soon be enforced and could see unscrupulous dealers being fined up to R50,000.
The metro's DA caucus leader Kobus Botha said: "I will be demanding that the governing party look at the budget again for the revenue protection unit."
The unit is tasked with protecting the metro's assets, including electrical and copper cables.
He said the ANC was short-changing the unit and the budget needed to be "beefed up" to handle the thefts.
The ruling party's chief whip, Sangweni Matwele, declined to comment.