Govt proposes six-month scrap metal ban to combat cable theft

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A crate of copper cables.
A crate of copper cables.
John Keeble/Getty Images

The government is hoping that a six-month ban on the export of scrap and waste metal will cut down on the theft of copper cables, which has contributed to power outages and left trains stranded. 

A new draft policy proposal published on Friday outlines the state’s plans to combat the trade in stolen scrap metal, which causes billions of rands of damage to SA’s economy every year. 

The plan, which has been published for public comment, includes a series of interventions to ratchet up pressure on criminals profiting from stolen metal, particularly copper cables. 

The key intervention in the first phase of the plan is a proposed six-month export prohibition on scrap and waste metal, including copper cables.

It will also include the establishment of an inter-departmental task force and the tightening of permit requirements. Phase 2 of the plan includes a new permit system for scrap metal exports. Alternatively, the export ban could be extended. 

This phase will also see the introduction of additional reporting requirements, restrictions on who can sell copper scrap, and restrictions on the ports and land borders to be used by exporters.

READ | Scrap metal draft policy on the way by late July, says Patel

The third and final phase of the plan will consider banning the use of cash in scrap metal transactions altogether.

“Research found that the export of metal provides a crucial monetisation channel for criminals, and South Africa’s ports and borders are not adequately resourced to prevent the export of stolen scrap and semi-finished metal products,” the government said in a statement. 

The public has 21 days to comment on the proposals. 

Find a copy of the proposals here

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