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Specialist police unit pounce on cable thieves carrying 750kg of Prasa cable

Two men were arrested in possession of stolen Prasa cable in Cape Town on Monday.
Two men were arrested in possession of stolen Prasa cable in Cape Town on Monday.
Image: Gallo Images/Rapport/Roger Sedres

The City of Cape Town’s metal theft unit delivered a blow to criminal networks stripping the city's passenger rail network of its copper fibre.

The bust came days ahead of the scheduled restart of Metrorail services on Wednesday.

The unit’s successes, along with police interventions and Prasa protection services' successes since Metrorail services stopped during the national Covid-19 lockdown three months ago, have seen hundreds of thousands of rand worth of Prasa copper cable recovered.

On Monday the unit’s members waited near the approaches to known scrap metal dealers in Elsies River, monitoring for vehicles that could be transporting scrap metal.

“A white vehicle was spotted transporting two large bags. A second vehicle followed the lead vehicle,” said Cape Town mayoral committee member (MMC) for safety and security JP Smith.

Officers followed the vehicles to a known dealer, stopping it outside the gates.

“The following vehicle sped off and was pursued by members of the unit. The large bags in the vehicle stopped by the officers was found to contain a large amount of cut copper cable,” said Smith.

“The driver explained he was transporting the cable for the occupants of another vehicle following him, but interestingly his description of this vehicle did not match the vehicle which fled the scene.

“The second vehicle was also caught by the officers and the driver taken into custody.

“Observations made by the officers debunked the explanation he was carrying the cable for another vehicle as there was no vehicle following him fitting that description.”

Smith said a link was established between the two drivers of the vehicles and they were taken to Elsies River police station.

The copper cable was identified as Prasa cable. It weighed 750kg in total and has a scrap value of R55,500, he said.

“The two men were charged for possession of stolen property and [contravening] the Criminal Matters Amendment Act. Both vehicles were impounded.”