Law to beef up war on cable theft hits speed bump

2015-10-20 19:26
The cable that was stolen by employees at City Power.

The cable that was stolen by employees at City Power.

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Parliament - Proposed amendments to beef up the war on cable theft need further clarity after Cosatu asked that the exisiting proposals include schools and hospitals.

The amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act is specifically targeting theft, damage and tampering of essential services' infrastructure. The current proposal is to ensure that those responsible face strong sentences - such as 30 years imprisonment.

Parliament's committee on justice and correctional services noted a submission by Cosatu that expressed solid support for the amendment, saying cable theft and damage to infrastructure was costing South Africa R7bn a year.

It was also making workers late and they were having their pay docked, leaving people to walk home in the dark, and making teaching and health services very difficult.

The proposed amendment to the Criminal Procedure Act of 1977 will regulate bail in respect of infrastructure-related offences, while the proposed amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1997 will regulate discretionary minimum sentences for essential infrastructure-related offices. 

It is also aimed at creating a new offence relating to essential infrastructure.

The preamble to the proposals notes that infrastructure-related offences may be relatively minor, but they cause considerable damage to essential infrastructure.

The committees takes months, sometimes years, to draft amendments, poring over each word,  knowing that a word out of place can make or break a case when it goes to court.

The committee also wanted to iron out whether an extension of the amendment to include schools and hospitals would have unintended consequences.

For example, could the students currently protesting university fees be jailed for 30 years if they damaged infrastructure, or would a child who broke something in anger at school battle to get bail.

The committee decided that it would do more research on the proposed amendments.

Read more on:    cable theft

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