KZN MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Sipho Hlomuka has noted and welcomed the landmark, precedent-setting judgement handed down by the High Court in Cape Town which has sentenced five copper thieves to a collective 1250 years in jail. The crimes they had committed between 2016 and 2018 include the theft of copper wires worth R1.8-million from Eskom and Telkom.

Hlomuka believes that this judgement will serve as a strong deterrent to those who continue to pillage private and public infrastructure. “This landmark judgement sends a clear message that the stripping of public and private infrastructure will not be tolerated and that those who dare inflict this form of economic sabotage on our society will face the possibility of lengthy sentences as their actions are tantamount to treason and an act against the state,” said Hlomuka.

Municipalities across the province continue to suffer millions of rand in damages every year as a result of cable theft, acts of sabotage and vandalism. Such behaviour also hampers the provision of regular service delivery to urban and rural communities.

Hlomuka has appealed to communities across the province to work closely with their respective municipalities and the law enforcement agencies to report any suspicions they might have in connection with cable theft.

“The fight against vandalism of public infrastructure is one that government cannot win on its own. We therefore appeal to our communities to play their part in safeguarding our essential infrastructure. Those who live near such infrastructure must take a stand and be vigilant by working with the police to bring perpetrators to account,” said Hlomuka