Two men, who were caught cutting copper cables belonging to Telkom in
December 2020, have been sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Joel Kabene, 34, and July Sithole, 34, were sentenced in the Pretoria North Magistrate's Court on Friday.
The Mozambican nationals were also given two years for being in the country illegally.
The sentences were ordered to run concurrently, and they were also declared unfit to possess a firearm.
The two were arrested a day after the offence on 15 December 2020, said National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) regional spokesperson Lumka Mahanjana.
The cable was worth R10 000 and had affected internet and data lines at the time, she added.
"The National Prosecuting Authority accepts the sentence and believes that it goes a long way in bringing such economic saboteurs to book.
"Damage to and tampering with essential infrastructure results in major service delivery interruptions as well as negatively impacting on businesses, communities and the economy."It is estimated that cable theft costs the South African economy between R5 billion and R7 billion a year. For this reason, this crime type is considered a priority by the NPA," Mahanjana said.