Locals lead Copperheads to stash

2016-05-24 06:00

A 43-year-old man was arrested on Friday 6 May after Manenberg residents made a call to the City of Cape Town’s metals theft unit to inform them of an incident of cable theft.

According to the City, the suspect left his loot at one of the houses in the area and a member of the unit, assisted by a detective from Manenberg police station, found him threatening residents to release his stolen goods.

The two officers arrested the suspect on charges of theft, malicious damage to property and intimidation. They also retrieved 23m of insulated electrical copper cable and a wire cutter.

The City’s metals theft unit, commonly known as the Copperheads, is working closely with the police and the National Prosecuting Authority to secure a conviction against a suspected habitual cable thief.

“The residents who stood up against this criminal are the real heroes in this case and I applaud their efforts. We need more people to speak out about those who terrorise their communities with their selfish actions if we are to make a real impact in the fight against crime,” says JP Smith, the City’s Mayoral Committee member for safety and security.

The City says the case has been reported in terms of Section 18 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act of 2015. The act makes provision for a person convicted for tampering with or damaging essential infrastructure to be imprisoned for a period not exceeding 30 years.

The most recent case from Eskom was tried under this Act and the three people convicted for the crime were sentenced to three, five and 15 years respectively.

“We’re hoping for a similar outcome in this particular case. For far too long we have had to watch repeat cable theft offenders walk out of court with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. To add insult to injury, very often the same people would be arrested for the same offence on the same spot within a matter of days – all while communities continue to experience the misery brought about by cable theft. We finally have the legislation that treats cable theft with the seriousness it deserves and we need to put it to use in the courts,” adds Smith.

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