Experts’ cable theft solutions

2014-06-11 00:00

BEYOND the single greatest solution — which is to reduce poverty in South Africa, specific solutions to KZN’s cable theft crisis suggested by various experts and investigators include:

• The application — through paint or spray — of barely visible microdots onto both copper and steel infrastructure, which would allow police not only to identify cable as stolen, but also instantly identify its owner. The Scrap Metal Industry Association told The Witness that registered dealerships were willing to buy and use simple ultraviolet devices needed to scan incoming metal;

• An audit of KZN’s most vulnerable cable infrastructure, and a strategic plan to either protect it, hide it, replace it with low-value alternatives, or physically take it out of reach of criminals;

• The use of other security technologies — including automated pepper spray systems for reservoirs and sub-stations, CCTV, alarms, and recessed, three-point locking systems for key points;

• New legislation to increase the penalties for cable stolen from parastatals and municipalities in line with its vast replacement cost, rather than its small metal value — or even to the level of sabotage;

• To assign a dedicated SAPS “crime code” to all cable thefts — rather than including it under “Thefts Other” — so that trends and statistics can be determined, and other agencies can track cases;

• Limiting the number of scrap dealers allowed to deal in copper to only two or three;

• The adoption, by cable manufacturers, of new draft SABS guidelines for the laser-tagging of all new cable infrastructure;

• Reviving Cape Town’s Copperheads Metro police unit to its earlier effectiveness, with active co-operation from all stakeholders and a mandate to investigate syndicates, and then replicating the model in cities around the country, as Durban plans to do this year;

• Strictly regulating or even banning all copper exports — while also restoring the container inspection facilities at the country’s harbours; and

•Re-establishing a dedicated SAPS infrastructure theft investigations unit.

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