Mark Steele MPP
Member of the KwaZulu-Natal Economic Development and Tourism Portfolio Committee
WHY can’t the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism (EDT) answer questions about the effect that the theft of copper cable wire is having on businesses and institutions in the province?
I recently submitted a parliamentary question to the MEC for EDT, Mike Mabuyakhulu, which asked for information about two key consequences of the widespread occurrence of copper wire theft. This was the result of incidents reported to me from all over the Midlands, with institutions from Camperdown to Nottingham Road being affected. Even schools and police stations have been negatively impacted while those whose business or service is dependent on telephone land line connections have also been severely affected. I wanted to know the economic services such as telecommunications or power supply affected, and what the cost of copper wire cable theft had been to businesses in the province.
The provincial department has referred the question back to me and asked me to send it to the Minister for Trade and Industry in Pretoria. This I have done but it begs a very serious question. Why can’t the KwaZulu-Natal Department of EDT supply this information? Either they don’t know, which seems difficult to accept, or they are simply unwilling to find out exactly what the extent of the problem is.
The issue of copper wire theft has seen the buck being passed from Telkom to Eskom to the SAPS with no one taking responsibility for the harm being done to the end users – the business or consumer or member of the public who suddenly can’t use a phone or operate a kitchen at a B&B. It is time that the MEC called a task team into being, which should include Telkom, SAPS and local councils, and established the true degree of the problem. That is the first step. The second step has to be a proper inspection and policing of the waste metal dealers who are buying and selling stolen copper wire.