Transnet records highest-ever theft of copper cable, JMPD arrests two suspects

8th March 2022 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Chief Photographer and Senior Contributing Editor

About 1 000 km of copper cable used to power electric locomotives has been stolen, to date, in the financial year ending on March 3, Transnet reports.

This is a significant increase on the 700 km of cable stolen in the 2020/21 financial year and the 395 km of cable stolen in the 2019/20 financial year.

Transnet has only been recording incidents of copper cable theft for the past three financial years.

To help secure its infrastructure, Transnet is spending R1.6-billion on security in the current financial year. It is spending a further R400-million on replacing stolen cables.

Over the past three years, 1 200 copper cable thieves have been arrested, resulting in 580 court cases, but convictions only total 40 as a result of court roll backlogs, Transnet reports.

Meanwhile, Transnet reports that two male suspects were arrested in Bramley, in Johannesburg, by the Johannesburg Metropolitan Police Department (JMPD) on March 5 for being in possession of stolen copper cables.

Working on a tip-off, the JMPD officers searched a property and discovered copper belonging to Transnet Freight Rail (TFR) and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa with an estimated value of over R3-million.

When the two suspects failed to provide a valid explanation for how they acquired the copper they were immediately arrested, following which they attempted to bribe the officers with R10 000 in cash. This led to them being charged with damage to infrastructure, possession of stolen copper and bribery.

Both suspects appeared in court on March 7.

Transnet says that because it manages a rail network of 30 000 km, it is “virtually impossible” for it to guard the entire system.

Therefore, TFR appeals to the general public to assist it with tip-offs by contacting its crime-stop hotline at 0860 010 111, to report any suspicious activities near and around its rail network.