Scrap dealer raided

2014-05-07 00:00

A RAID on a Pietermaritzburg scrap metal dealer yesterday netted a haul of suspected stolen copper worth well over R150 000.

One person was arrested yesterday, but more arrests are expected to follow.

Investigations are currently underway to see if this haul is linked to cable theft syndicates currently the subject of an investigative series of articles by Witness chief reporter Rowan Philp.

The booty was still being weighed yesterday afternoon, but the value of yesterday’s truck load was estimated at over R150 000.

The efforts of a small team of dedicated cable-theft investigators — the Msunduzi task team dealing with electricity theft — was behind yesterday’s raid.

The work that led to the discovery came from undercover agents linked to the team.

Lelani van den Berg, legal adviser in the office of the municipal manager, said the task team was set up because of a spate of electricity cable thefts from sub-stations, as well as the increasing numbers of illegal connections in the city.

The team of investigators, led by Mzwakhe Mdakane, had discovered that certain municipal employees were involved in the thefts. Five people were caught and it was learnt that they were in cahoots with certain scrap metal dealers. These were kept under surveillance by undercover agents and yesterday there were reports of suspicious activity at one dealer’s premises, leading to the raid.

Van den Berg said the task team did not have the authority to arrest people, but involved the police and National Prosecuting Authority in its operations. She added that they also yesterday discovered that cables from lamp posts were being replaced in the city and were now looking at the possible involvement of a sub-contractor in connection with this aspect.

Van den Berg said the raid was evidence of the success of the co-operation between Mdakane and his team, and the police and NPA in the city.

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