Minister of Trade and Industry Ebrahim Patel has called for more tough sanctions against those involved in stealing copper cables as it was costing the country billions of rands with Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa ( Prasa), Eskom and other infrastructure being destroyed every year.
Patel said the sentences of 20 years in prison for stealing copper cables and other measures was not enough to deter the vandalism of infrastructure to steal copper cables.
He said cable theft cost the country R46 billion a year and this was an initial estimate.
He said he has been working with Police Minister Bheki Cele and other law enforcement to crack down on cable theft but the problem persists.
President Cyril Ramaphosa also raised this issue recently.
On Wednesday, MPs and other members of Parliament called for a complete ban on the sale of copper cables as it caused damage to infrastructure.
Patel said they were looking at a number of measures to crack down on this problem.
He said his department has researched this and part of the proposals include a ban on sale of copper cables.
“The proposals made by different stakeholders range from a complete ban on the export or sale of scrap copper cable to control sales in domestic markets to restrictions on the use of cash for scrap metal so that an electronic proof of origin is in place, to a licensing regime for a scrap metal merchant. These are all the measures we are looking at,” said Patel.
He said the Prasa, Eskom, mining companies, factories and other infrastructure were victims of syndicates involved in cable theft.
He said it caused enormous damage to the economy as it affected business and industry.