Police minister Bheki Cele says task teams will be established in identified hotspots to fight essential-infrastructure crimes, including theft of copper cables and illegal mining.
Tabling the police budget vote in parliament on Tuesday, Cele said President Cyril Ramaphosa in his state of nation address said the ongoing vandalism and theft of economic infrastructure has damaged confidence and severely constrained economic growth, investment and job creation.
Ramaphosa said the government has established specialised multidisciplinary units to address economic sabotage, extortion at construction sites and the vandalism of infrastructure.
“These crimes will not be allowed to go unabated, this is why task teams will be established in 18 identified hotspots, linked to municipalities with highest reported cases of such crimes.
“These multidisciplinary task teams will focus on extortion at construction sites and businesses, and illegal mining. The highly skilled teams will tackle theft of non-ferrous metals, copper cables and put in measures to combat and stop illegal mining,” Cele said.
Cele said residents of affected areas cannot continue to be held to ransom and left in the dark due to cable theft and related crimes.
“Task teams will also tackle essential infrastructure crimes such as the tampering, damaging or destroying of infrastructure related to energy, transport, water, sanitation and communication services. Critical infrastructure crimes will also be on their radar, such as the attacking, damaging or theft of fuel pipelines and related crimes,” Cele said.