Eskom's head of security, Adv Karen Pillay, said: “Cable theft continuously affects business operations and hampers the provision of basic essential services to industry and to communities.”
Between Eskom, Transnet, Prasa and Telkom, the direct losses incurred amounted to more than R7bn a year, she said. The knock-on effects to the economy are estimated at R187bn.
“Such levels of criminality undermine the ability of the state-owned companies to deliver the much-needed services such as electricity, rail, communications and other critical infrastructure.
“This exacerbates localised power cuts and the implementation of load-shedding. This poses a significant and direct impact on the recovery of the SA economy.”
Eskom’s acting CEO, Calib Cassim, said: “This is economic sabotage of the highest degree.
“The perpetrators of such crimes must be brought to book and dealt the full might of the law.
“Customers pay the price for such crimes through increased tariffs.
“We shall pursue the investigations together with the Hawks and shall intensify operations against the syndicates, ensuring that they are disrupted.
“We shall assist the Hawks in tracing every individual who participates in the criminal enterprise and ensure prosecution.”
Eskom urged all scrap metal dealers, foundries and smelters to refrain from buying stolen cables, while anyone who witnesses suspicious activities is asked to contact the Eskom Crime Line number on 0800-11-27-22, or to call the Crime Stop Hotline on 086-0010111.
The Mpumalanga raids follow recent arrests at scrap dealerships in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape and in Krugersdorp, Gauteng.