Johannesburg - Copper theft increased in July 2011 to
R15.84m, although lower world copper prices might have kept it from its
previous highs, according to the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci)
copper theft barometer released on Monday.
This was up from the June level of R14.37m, but was still
below the average reading of R16m to R18m in the nine months that Sacci has
been measuring copper cable theft.
"The figure of R15.84m in July 2011 suggests a more
contained level of theft with the fall in copper price from almost US$10 000 in
July to below US$9 000 in August," Sacci said in a statement.
"The oversupply of copper and poor demand from the
world economy is likely to further reduce the profitability of engaging in the
illegal copper trade."
Sacci said the enactment of the Second Hands Goods Act in
January 2011 and the moves by various law enforcement bodies to reclassify the
theft if copper and electricity as very serious offences impacting national
security, could affect demand.
"The recent disruption of Gautrain services has drawn
renewed attention to the overall economic impact of copper theft and emphasises
the scope of challenge that has historically, and is currently, faced by Telkom
[JSE:TKG], Transnet and Eskom," the body said.
The barometer, launched in December 2010, is an indicator of
the estimated cost of replacing copper cable stolen from major users Transnet,
Telkom, and Eskom.