Copper theft rising - Sacci
Johannesburg - Copper theft increased again in February, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Wednesday.
Sacci's Copper Theft Barometer was R22.8m in February - up 4% from January's R21.9m, Sacci said.
It was R20.9m in December.
In 2011, the barometer averaged R17.8m.
The barometer - started in December 2010 - is an indicator of the estimated cost of replacing copper cable stolen from major users Transnet, Telkom and Eskom.
The chamber expected copper theft levels to be higher this year than in 2011 due to increased international demand for copper.
"According to Xstrata Copper (Australia) global demand for copper will rise by 3.1% in 2012, boosted by China's continued investment in housing and infrastructure that will drive up demand.
"This is significant since China's demand constitutes 40% of global demand," Sacci said.
However, the current trend of stronger law enforcement could cut out a vital conduit for organised copper-theft syndicates, Sacci said.
"Last year, there were 72 533 reported incidents of copper cable theft and 10 736 arrests were made.
"Sentences passed on guilty offenders have recently become harsher."
Another positive measure was the implementation of the Second-Hand Goods Act, dealing with accreditation of second-hand goods dealers' associations.
"These provisions regulate suspicious transactions as well as the possession, acquisition and disposal of metal cable with a burnt cover such as copper."
The act will be implemented in full once outstanding regulations are promulgated, expected to be by the end of April.
The only way that one can stop this is to make copper a precious metal where it is illegal to deal in it. Like gold and silver, every ingot has a serial number and is registered. Any scrap metal merchant dealing in copper must have all the necessary paperwork for each consignment of copper in place, or face the consequences. Buying stolen copper or copper wire where it is obviously from a copper cable must have penalties of imprisonment which equate to treason or crimes against the state. These penalties must be harsh where in the past, treason was punishable by death! If the scrap metal merchants refuse to buy the copper from the thieves, their market will dry up. Copper cable theft is so brazen that it takes place in broad daylight! All that is needed is for a few of these perpetrators to be made an example of. 20 years, no parole!
Maybe there is another alternative and one that involves job creation. You put one jobless person with a walkie talkie per every 50m of cable and pay him R 50 a shift to look after the cable. If the cable is stolen, you lock him up in the General Ward of Pretoria Central or deport him to Yemen for theft. The cost of the cable is R 20 mil, but the consequential damages are far more - and this way you solve 2 problems. Also a jobless crew at every special distance controlled traffic light - with the same rules.
As long as there are buyers (scrap metal dealers,scabengas,etc) there will be sellers (scabengas,thieves,
etc). Regulate the scrap metal dealers.
Regulate the scrap metal industry to the hilt !