Eskom security contractors denied bail after being caught with minibus full of stolen cable

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Two security guards contracted to Eskom, as well as a taxi driver, were arrested at the weekend after allegedly being caught with a minibus taxi full of copper cable at an Eskom warehouse in Germiston.

The suspects were on duty at the crime scene when they were apprehended by members of Eskom's in-house security staff, the power utility said in a statement on Thursday. This came after an investigation that took place after the minibus was seen driving towards the back of the utility's Rosherville warehouse.

"The Eskom in-house security personnel found the minibus taxi parked outside the storeroom loaded with the Eskom cable and the driver seated inside," said Eskom spokesperson Sikonathi Mantshantsha.

"The two are alleged to have spent the night cutting the cable into sizeable pieces that could fit into a minibus taxi."

The suspects were taken into South African Police Service (SAPS) custody and charged with theft of essential infrastructure, while the taxi was impounded.

The three suspects were denied bail after appearing in court on Monday.

"It is regrettable that two of our contractor guards are charged with theft of material they are employed to protect and look after. We have over and above the criminal proceedings barred the suspects them from entering all Eskom sites. We are most impressed with the level of alertness and quick reaction by our in-house security officials in foiling this planned theft. It is our hope that this will send a strong message to criminals, especially those within, that we are wide alert to safeguard the assets of Eskom to ensure that our mandate to provide electricity is not interfered with," said Kith Maitisa, Middle Manager for Safety, Health, Environment and Quality in Eskom, Gauteng.

The troubled power utility – which is currently implementing Stage 2 load shedding – has been battling sabotage and infrastructure theft. Earlier this year, group security manager Karen Pillay said Eskom had experienced an increase in vandalism which was costing billions of rands in damage.

The scrap metal market was a key driver of cable theft, Pillay said.

Last month, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan called for a ban on scrap exports, while Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel, in his recent budget vote, said a scrap metal draft policy would be published by the end of July.

Fin24 recently reported that infrastructure theft was costing the economy some R187 billion per year

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