DA establishes a task team to combat the theft of public infrastructure

Please find an attached soundbite by Mat Cuthbert MP 

The DA has met to establish a task team to combat the industrial-scale theft of public infrastructure that is widespread across South African cities and towns. (see document here)

This is as a result of the failure of the national government to address this crisis in a meaningful way.

In a joint statement released in July 2021, Telkom, Eskom, the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa and Transnet, revealed that the persistent challenge of cable theft and infrastructure vandalism was leading to a combined direct loss of R7 billion every year, with an R187 billion knock-on effect on the economy per annum.

Furthermore, this impacts the ability of local governments to deliver electricity and other basic services.

This team comprises of our Shadow Ministries of Police, Public Enterprises, Trade, Industry, and Competition, Transport, as well as executives in the municipalities where we govern.

Together, we have developed a set of local, provincial, and national interventions we know can help deal with the crisis at hand.

National interventions that we propose are:  

  • Proper implementation of the Second Hand Goods Law of 2009
  • Giving copper theft its own crime code and making the theft of it a priority crime at the SAPS
  • Creating a Specialised SAPS Unit
  • Setting copper theft reduction targets at parastatals
  • Close cooperation between law enforcement and metal recyclers to assist in the tracking of illicitly-traded metals
  • Empowering the Non-Ferrous Theft (NFTCC) Combatting Committee through legislation and its dedicated budget
  • Establishing a reward hotline
  • Eradicating the backlog of scrap dealer Licences
  • Multi-agency cooperation and information sharing
  • Standardised transaction recording of scrap metal sales.

Each of the relevant shadow ministers will be writing to their ministers to request that they undertake a costing exercise to see how much funds they can allocate to the proposed set of interventions (within the scope of their department).

Provincial interventions that we propose are: 

  • Provinces map out public infrastructure vandalism hotspot areas to assist law enforcement agencies with the allocation of security personnel to protect these areas;
  • Provinces develop anti-vandalism infrastructure plans to coordinate their response to the challenge.

Local interventions that we propose are:

  • Set up specialised units within metro and town law enforcement authorities
  • Ensure that indelible markings are placed on all electrical infrastructure.
  • Install anti-theft bolts and fasteners on the infrastructure where possible.
  • Investigate the use of alternative metals to replace the use of copper.
  • Create information-sharing networks between local law enforcement and metal recyclers.
  • Install alarm systems on infrastructure that is linked to local law enforcement authorities.
  • That electrical and infrastructure departments budget for the necessary security to patrol sites such as substations etc.

We will request our local governments to formally adopt these interventions through the relevant council processes and include them in their budgetary considerations, which are currently underway.

In addition, we will be writing to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to request that this matter be urgently debated.

Government cannot sit idly by while our country’s infrastructure is being stripped and pillaged.

To protect our economy, we must safeguard our infrastructure. This is why the City of Cape Town has been strident in taking over the local rail infrastructure currently managed by SOE Transnet.

This is why the DA has taken to developing these constructive proposals and will put pressure on the government to implement them.