Copper theft costs SA R5bn a year

2010-12-09 12:53

Johannesburg - Copper theft is costing the economy an estimated R5bn per year, the SA Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci) said on Thursday as it released its first copper theft barometer in an attempt to reduce the costs of the crime on the economy.

"The barometer will measure and monitor the extent of copper cable theft in the country on a monthly basis (to raise) the general awareness of the crime," said Peggy Drodskie, executive adviser to the Sacci CEO, in Johannesburg.

"The theft of copper is an important issue that does not bode well for the future of South Africa," she said.

The R5bn includes only the replacement value and does not take into account security or labour costs, said Drodskie.

It also has an adverse impact on the economy through loss of productivity, negative investor perceptions and poor service delivery, among others.

"If you don't have a telephone (or) computers, your staff can't operate optimally," Drodskie said. This could even lead to the closure of small businesses.

The barometer will reflect the experiences of Transnet, Telkom [JSE:TKG] and Eskom, and examine the previous six months preceding the release.

The first barometer found the average monthly loss between April 2009 and October 2010 was R22.3m.

Losses peaked in November 2009 at R46.42m and March this year at R47.2m.

"The trend generally is upwards... worryingly. We're looking at the reason for the troughs and peaks."

She said copper theft seems to be driven by syndicates, and appears to be linked to the international copper price. Sacci would be investigating this further.

November 2010 saw a substantial improvement year-on-year compared to November 2009, with a 60% reduction in replacement cost.

"In recent months, replacement cost levels remained volatile, but at substantially lower levels than experienced earlier in 2010.

"The November level of R18m is less than a third of the March 2010 peak."

  • Robert Kay - 2010-12-09 13:09

    If it's remotely sellable, then it will be stolen. The biggest culprits of course are those so-called scrap dealers who purchase the goods for a pittance, and make a fortune out of recycling and re-selling!

  • Sandile - 2010-12-09 13:14

    Easy solution: we do not produce any copper so simply stop all exports of copper from SA.

  • Magus - 2010-12-09 13:26

    scrap dealers should not be allowed to trade in copper, problem solved. Furthermore, I've changed to Neotel (same or cheaper than Telkom) since my Telkom line was never working (blamed on cable theft but service was terrible anyway)

  • Soothsayer - 2010-12-09 13:40

    Treat Copper the same as gold.It can only be traded through certain channels.If copper is found in a scrapyard the penalty should be the same as having illegal gold.

  • Freeforall - 2010-12-09 14:00

    The barometer will measure and monitor the extent of copper cable theft in the country on a monthly basis (to raise) the general awareness of the crime," What the hell will this help. "We have concluded our major plan to curb the theft of copper, than big plan is that we will be making a plan and such thingsā€

  • happy chappie - 2010-12-09 14:03

    fine or close down the scrap dealers who are found with copper and any scrap which they should not have

  • George - 2010-12-09 14:13

    Ban trading in copper by scrap dealers. I don't see gold being traded, so I'm sure it's doable - unless there are interests not to do so. This has been a problem for so long that one wonders how come we have not sort of stumbled into that sort of conclusion. It seems that now we will go back to normal mode - investigate, write a paper, sit around and discuss, confer, negotiate. This should have been handled by the SWC project - quick decisions, resolutions and actions. Too late now! It is also so frustrating when the obvious is never asked or discussed. Have we journalists that perhaps can ask the obvious questions - for this and other issues.

  • Investor - 2010-12-09 14:13

    SCRAP dealers millions are built on stolen copper and other metals - while the SA police are SLEEPING !!! Jail sentences for illegal dealing in metals should be increased with 15 year minumum sentence - that will be a start - then, police must get off their FAT BUMS

  • No worries - 2010-12-09 14:14

    So who cares, we have plenty of billions to give away, Zuma can solve with 500 000 jobs and the new growth path..

  • john - 2010-12-09 14:14

    Sandile you obviously don't know that there is 1 company in SA that mines and supplies 70% of all SA copper

  • Andrew - 2010-12-09 14:23

    Thieves are also stealing copper plumbing. I recon they are in cohoots with plumbers as then the plumbers get extra work and they charge a fortune

  • Scallywag @ investor - 2010-12-09 15:01

    I could not agree with you more! The scrap dealers are worth millions and lead a life of luxury. They are the ones who should be tracked down and punished with the maximum jail time with no bail or option of a fine. They are the scourge of South Africa, just like the rhino poachers and the Chinese who pay top dollar. The Chinese mafia (triads) are the brains behind everything!

  • spaceman - 2010-12-09 15:16

    I've got a suspicion that TELKOM is welcoming copper theft in order to push there 3G devices. Our area was victim of copper theft, telkom responce gave us 3G telephones at 3x the price. mafia!

  • Robz - 2010-12-10 14:07

    It is simple. Don't call it theft. It is sabotage of the economy. Charge them with terrorism and put them away for a long time. Every single one who is involved in the sabotage whether it's the one that doing the sabotaging or the one that's supporting him by buying it.

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