Police in Newcastle, northern KwaZulu-Natal, have arrested two men aged 27 and 28 after they were found in possession of stolen copper.
More than 68kg of burnt copper was confiscated.
The town has been experiencing an increase in copper cable theft in the past few months. Police allegedly formed a partnership with a private investigator employed by companies using the material in a bid to stop the theft.
The two men were arrested at Eskom last month.
Spokesman Shooz Magudu- lela said police were on a routine patrol when they spotted four men carrying heavy bags.
"The men ran into the bush when they saw police. The police, with the help of a dog, arrested two of the men next to a railway line. One of the men was bitten by the police dog. They will appear in court soon," said Magudu- lela.
"The other two suspects managed to get away and are still at large," said Magudulela.
He said copper cable theft was a big problem, especially from the unoccupied houses next to the rail line.
In a separate incident, a man was arrested for stock theft and eight cattle were recovered in the Dry Cut area.
Police were informed about suspicious cattle that were kept in a kraal and were ready to be sold.
In the past two days, police have made four arrests and recovered 18 cattle. One had apparently already been slaughtered.
Farmers in Newcastle and surrounding areas like Utrecht complain that police do not do enough to stop stock theft from their farms.
It's alleged that local businessmen are using unemployed people, including youth, to steal stock from farmers. Goats, sheep and cattle are always in demand because they are used in traditional ceremonies.