State-owned logistics company Transnet on June 10 reported that there were an average of 650 incidents of cable theft a month in the first five months of this year, while more than 600 arrests have been made since the beginning of the year.
Transnet loses about 120 km of overhead cables a month owing to the high levels of cable theft and vandalism of critical infrastructure. Over the past five years, the company reported a 177% increase in security-related incidents, resulting in an increase in volume loss, it said.
Its interventions include redeployment of personnel and other resources to the most affected lines, increased use of technology, collaboration with law enforcement agencies, customers and other State-owned companies affected by the theft and vandalism.
This has led to the arrests, with the suspects charged in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act on Theft of Ferrous or Non-Ferrous Metal forming part of Essential Infrastructure.
The hotspot areas targeted by these criminal activities include Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Free State and the North West. The railway network in these provinces transports goods including iron-ore, coal, chrome, manganese, ferrochrome, automotives and containers and is, therefore, critical for the economy.
Transnet continues to intensify efforts to halt cable theft and infrastructure vandalism, an issue which has escalated to a national problem in recent years. Transnet continues to engage with all affected stakeholders on further initiatives to curb this serious threat to our economy. Additional interventions will be rolled out in coming weeks, it said.
"Transnet urges all our stakeholders, including scrap-metal dealers, foundries and smelters, to refrain from buying overhead cables from unregistered traders. Transnet also encourages members of the community to report any suspicious activities using Transnet Freight Rail’s anonymous hotline number 0800 003 056 or email email@example.com or to call the Crime hotline number on 086 00 10111."