Copper thief caught stealing roof sheeting off Pietermaritzburg’s city hall

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A man was arrested on Thursday after he was caught stealing copper sheeting from the top of the Msunduzi City Hall roof.

During Msunduzi Municipality’s last council meeting at the city hall recently, the public had notified Msunduzi officials about a man spotted on the roof carrying a plastic bag but no-one was arrested at the time.

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Lucas Holtzhausen, general manager of Safe City Msunduzi, told The Witness that Msunduzi had recently asked them to monitor the city hall roof as they were experiencing theft of the copper sheets.

“We started observing the roof of the city hall and today [Thursday] one of our operators spotted this guy sort of sitting on the roof, but behind one of the gables so we couldn’t see him properly. He looked suspicious so we observed him for a while as we were not sure if he was a municipal worker or a thief.

“We then decided to contact the municipality’s security and they sent one of their inspectors to climb up the roof.

“When the inspector was close to him, the man ran. I’ve never seen anything like that, he ran like a cat. He jumped from one roof to another roof, it was like a scene from a movie,” laughed Holtzhausen.

He said within a minute, the man was on the ground and disappeared behind the Bessie Head Library close to the city hall.

“You could clearly see that he knew his way around that roof because he knew exactly how to get down.”

Holtzhausen said because they now knew what the man looked like; it was easy to look out for him on their numerous surveillance cameras across the city.

Parts of the city hall’s copper sheeting on the roof that was being removed piece by piece.PHOTO: msunduzi municipality
msunduzi municipality
Parts of the city hall’s copper sheeting on the roof that was being removed piece by piece.PHOTO: msunduzi municipality

The man was spotted on the corner of Boshoff and Langalibalele streets walking downtown. Police were contacted and the man was apprehended by the police near Retief Street and was arrested.

“He had no idea what hit him when the police got him because he didn’t know we were watching him. He thought he had gotten away,” said Holtzhausen.

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He said he was “chuffed” about the arrest as this has been an ongoing problem for Msunduzi. He said he hoped that the arrest would deter other criminals.

“They’ve been stealing the copper from the roof for a while now. These guys are so brazen that they do it during the day. I suspect one guy loosens it during the day and they come back again at night to lower the copper and leave with it,” he said.

Holtzhausen said the theft of copper sheeting was a huge problem in the city as people make good money from selling the copper.

Msunduzi Municipality’s spokesperson Thobeka Mafumbatha thanked Safe City and the city hall’s security guards for their efforts in apprehending the man.

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