More stolen cable seized in latest raid

2014-05-15 00:00

MARITZBURG’S new cable theft task team seized a ton of suspected stolen infrastructure yesterday — just a week after confiscating twice as much from another scrap dealer.

In a raid of a major local metal dealership — Wayne’s Scrap Metal — agents found underground municipal cables with a black market value of about R50 000, and a replacement cost to the city of hundreds of thousands.

No arrests were made and the alleged theft was being investigated. The owners barred The Witness from the premises, locking the gate, and refused to comment, saying the matter was being handled by their lawyers.

The raid was carried out by Msunduzi Municipality’s dedicated electricity theft task team.

Last week, the team’s undercover agents netted a haul of stolen copper valued at over R150 000 from LTV Scrap dealers in Pine Street. The case was taken over by the Hawks and the owner is due to appear in court today.

Lelani van den Berg, legal adviser in the office of the municipal manager, said the task team’s work was “impressive”, given its recent start. She said yesterday’s raid was the result of surveillance work.

“Undercover agents were following up another case when they paid a visit to Wayne’s scrap yard — while there they saw what appeared to be municipal cable being stripped. Staff from the city’s electricity department were called and they positively identified from the serial numbers that this was underground municipal cables.”

Meanwhile, Van den Berg said the undercover agents had also caught three cable thieves red-handed — carrying three bags filled with Eskom cables.

The head of the task team, Mzwakhe Mdakane, said the thieves were making their way to a scrap metal dealer when they were stopped and their loot examined. The SA Police Service were called and the three Lesotho nationals were arrested.

Mdakane said he was confident the city’s crackdown would stun copper theft gangs in the months ahead.

He said “team work” was the key, adding the Msunduzi investigators were working with officials from the Hawks, Telkom, Eskom and Transnet.

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