Eskom thief jailed for 28 years for stealing R27‚000 conductor

Eskom thief jailed for 28 years for stealing R27‚000 conductor.
Eskom thief jailed for 28 years for stealing R27‚000 conductor.
Image: 123RF/ scanrail

A thief has been sentenced to an effective 28 years in prison for stealing an overhead conductor with a scrap value of R27‚000.

Eskom said it was pleased with the conviction‚ which came after the man was found guilty of having stolen an overhead conductor at the Paardevlei Farm‚ Somerset West‚ on November 13‚ 2016. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison‚ with two years suspended‚ by the Somerset West Regional Court on Tuesday.

“The overhead conductor had a scrap value of R27‚000‚” the company said.

The man pleaded guilty on charges of theft and damage to essential infrastructure.

“Eskom is pleased with the outcome of the trial and hopes that the conviction sends a stern warning to deter any would-be electricity network thieves from such costly acts of criminality.”

The man was convicted under the Criminal Matters Amendment Act 18 of 2015‚ which was introduced in May 2016. The law created a new offence: damaging infrastructure that disrupts the provision of essential services‚ whether publicly or privately owned. It also holds jail terms longer than those served by murderers.

The Act describes ‘‘essential infrastructure’’ as any installation‚ structure‚ facility or system whose loss or damage may interfere with a basic service to the public.

Before‚ crimes such as cable theft were tried as malicious damage to property and incurred minor penalties. There are minimum sentences for first-time copper thieves of three years and a maximum 30 years for those involved in instigating or causing damage to infrastructure.

Scrapyard employees linked to organising or instructing thieves to steal copper can also be charged.

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