DA Wants Report on Copper Theft

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader

The Democratic Alliance in the Northern Cape will submit a parliamentary question to the MEC of Transport, Safety and Liaison requesting a detailed report on the state of copper theft in the province, as well as the impact of SAPS’s attempt to crack down on copper theft in the Northern Cape via Operation Thibela.

This comes after the South African Chamber of Commerce (Sacci) reported a substantial increase in copper theft levels across the country over the third quarter, with its copper theft barometer recording a R1,8 million increase in July.

The DA is deeply concerned by Sacci’s remarks that, while the implementation of the Second-hand Goods Act had the immediate effect of deterring organized crime syndicates from committing copper theft owing to improved enforcement methods required by legislation, crime syndicates have become more sophisticated in identifying materials for theft and evading detection. In other words, while the number of copper theft incidents may have fallen, the quantity of stolen copper per incident has increased.

The DA appreciates SAPS’s attempt at prioritizing copper theft in the province through Operation Thibela, which is aimed at closing the market for stolen and illegal items, especially non-ferrous metals, by ensuring compliance to the second-hand goods legislation. We do not, however, believe that this is enough to combat copper theft. The DA thus wants a detailed analysis of copper theft in the Northern Cape since January this year, including the quantity and value of what was stolen. This will allow us to assess the actual impact of Operation Thibela.

At the same time, the DA once again proposes the establishment of a Copperheads unit. Such a unit was established in the DA run city of Cape Town and since its inception, this taskforce has arrested between 200 and 300 people a year, bringing about significant reductions in financial losses resulting from copper theft. There is no reason why this success cannot be replicated in the Northern Cape.

Copper theft comes at a great cost to the public purse as it impacts on service delivery and hurts the economy, which in turn affects economic growth, productivity and job creation. Already burdened by high unemployment rates, the Northern Cape cannot handle any more strain on our provincial economy. We sincerely hope that MEC Mabilo will recognize this fact and do all in his power to make copper theft a provincial priority.

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