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Mayor calls for tougher penalties, more joint intelligence in fight against metal theft

Today, I went to see first-hand the City’s efforts to curb the burgeoning metal theft trade when I joined our Metal Theft Unit in a number of inspections and searches at scrap yards in the Bellville area.

‘Today, I went to see first-hand the City’s efforts to curb the burgeoning metal theft trade when I joined our Metal Theft Unit in a number of inspections and searches at scrap yards in the Bellville area. The City is doing more to curb cable theft and safeguard City infrastructure. Our Metal Theft Unit does sterling work, but the reality is we need a joint effort between SAPS crime intelligence, and state intelligence agencies. Metal theft is now organised crime, and we need our intelligence services to help bust open these criminal networks. We also need much tougher penalties for those caught stealing or destroying public infrastructure,’ said Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis.

The criminals who steal cables are the starting point of a supply chain which feeds networks exporting this metal overseas.

More severe penalties are needed, and more convictions, to disrupt these networks and discourage this criminal conduct.

Between 1 January 2021 to 19 June 2022, the City’s Metal Theft Unit arrested 294 suspects on charges relating to the theft of cables or damage to public infrastructure.

‘Earlier this month, we announced an allocation of R40 million to help prevent vandalism of critical energy infrastructure, boost patrols in hotspot areas and include permanent security deployments at strategic sites. Vandalism of electricity infrastructure remains a big challenge across the city, affecting residents the most. Cable theft is crippling the City’s infrastructure, as well as rail. I recently visited Salt River railway line and saw piles of discarded cable covers, all which hurt the services offered to residents,’ added Mayor Hill-Lewis.

There has been a 97% reduction in train usage in the metro, which is almost exclusively attributed to pervasive and persistent cable theft.

The rail system has for decades been the backbone of Cape Town’s transport network – now more than ever with rising fuel prices, it could be the saving grace for so many of our commuters, but it has been stripped bare. So not only do these acts sabotage the economy, but they also compromise the safety of residents and their overall quality of life.

‘There is also a severe impact on the City’s own operations, with millions lost each year due to metal theft and the replacement of items, including manhole covers, fire hydrants and water meters. This is funding that could be spent on improving basic services across the metropole, but instead, the City is forced to redirect spending to rectify the damage wrought by metal thieves,’ said Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

Report damage to municipal electrical infrastructure:

SMS: 31220

Email: power@capetown.gov.za

Anonymous tip-offs welcomed:

Residents can give anonymous tip offs if they are aware of illegal activity, such as illegal connections or unlawful occupations, that are taking place; that has happened or is still to happen. Please call 112 from a cell phone (toll free) and 107 from a landline or 021 480 7700 for emergencies

Caption 1: Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis shows copper wire recovered at a premises in Bellville South.

Caption 2: A fine is issued to a resident who is not registered as a Second Hand Goods Dealer after discarded copper wire was found at the premises.

Caption 3: Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis (centre and kneeling) and Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security Alderman JP Smith (far left front) with the Metal Theft Unit in Bellville South.

Source: City Of Cape Town