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Charge those accused of stealing cable with economic sabotage: Mbalula

04 June 2020 - 22:15 By ERNEST MABUZA
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula wants harsher sentences for people found guilty of stealing rail cables and other infrastructure.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula wants harsher sentences for people found guilty of stealing rail cables and other infrastructure.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER/THE TIMES

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula has called for cable theft suspects to be charged with economic sabotage.

Mbalula made the call on Thursday following the arrest of suspects for possession of Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) aluminium cables with an estimated value of R10m in Mmakau, North West, on Tuesday.

“The Criminal Matters Amendment Act ... which commenced on June 1 2016 defines essential infrastructure as any installation, structure, facility or system, whether publicly or privately owned, and states that the loss or damage of, or the tampering with, which may interfere with the provision or distribution of a basic service to the public, is economic sabotage,” said Mbalula in a statement.

He said the act effectively elevates the crime of cable theft in the rail environment, among other crimes, to economic sabotage.

“We continue to work closely with the justice, crime prevention and security cluster to ensure that we eliminate these syndicates.” 

Those who were arrested must be charged, convicted and receive the highest sentence, he added. “This will not only deter other criminals but will ensure our work to fix Prasa is not derailed. We have the law on our side — it must be used.”

He said the act also imposes a maximum sentence of 30 years for individuals and a fine of up to R100m for corporate entities.

Mbalula applauded the police, Prasa security and the community for their swift actions leading to the arrest of the suspected criminals.

Giving an example of a successful conviction, the minister said criminals who stole Telkom cables worth R35,000 had recently been sentenced to 12 years behind bars.


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