Huge copper theft ring bust

2015-10-09 11:16


Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Pietermaritzburg - Four men allied to a national copper theft syndicate with international links were arrested on Thursday after a massive bust in Richmond.

The men, who are believed to be linked to a string of more than 20 cases of professional copper theft, were the targets of a countrywide manhunt by industry giants Eskom and Transnet.

Nearly R800 000 worth of ­copper was found by police at the small homestead where they arrested the men in Richmond.

It is believed that the syndicate has links to smugglers in India and China, who buy the copper from the thieves and ship it overseas.

The Witness can reveal that a ­special team of investigators ­employed by private security ­company Combined Private ­Investigations (CPI) was tasked by Eskom and Transnet to crack the syndicate. The company specialises in intelligence operations concerning non-ferrous metal crimes for various state organisations.

After a successful bust in the Free State last week in which four men from the syndicate were arrested, information led the investigators to KwaZulu-Natal, where the ­remaining four men from the syndicate were believed to be operating.

In a joint effort by the security company, officers from the Senekal police station in the Free State, Richmond police detectives and members of the Tactical Response Team, and the Organised Crime and K9 units, the four men were tracked to the Richmond ­homestead.

According to uMgungundlovu South police spokesperson ­Mthokozisi Ngobese, the men, aged 26 to 39, were found with R765 000 worth of copper cabling after an “intensive investigation” that ­continued from Wednesday night through to yesterday morning.

Ngobese said the men were linked to 11 cases of copper theft in the Free State as well as 16 cases in KZN.

It is believed the four men ­operating in KZN had stolen copper from areas in Pietermaritzburg, Richmond and Underberg.

“Upon further investigation it was established that the syndicate would steal copper and export it to China and India through various contacts they have,” Ngobese said.

“The investigation is still ­under way, as we want to establish if these men are linked to any other cases. Their modus operandi is very ­specific, so it can be traced easily.”

Ngobese said uMgungundlovu South police cluster commander Major-General Lucas Ngobeni had expressed his gratitude to all the officers involved in the bust yesterday.

“The cluster commander said operations like this emphasise the importance of partnerships ­between the police and other ­stakeholders,” Ngobese quoted.

Jan Wolmarans of CPI said he had not received any feedback from his investigators by the time The Witness went to print yesterday, and was therefore unable to ­comment

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  copper theft

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Competition regulation for a growing and inclusive economy

ADVERTORIAL: The Competition Commission of South Africa is conducting advocacy work in the South African automotive aftermarket industry and has gazetted a Draft Code of Conduct for public comment.


Men.24 Model of the Week: Wendy from Cape Town

Find out more about our featured model, Wendy from Cape Town


You won't want to miss...

Who are the highest paid models of 2017?
10 gorgeous plus-sized models who aren't Ashley Graham
WATCH: Pornhub is giving users free access to premium content these holidays
5 top leg exercises for men
Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.