Man arrested for stealing copper cables worth over R500 000

The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) and the South African Police Service's (SAPS) efforts to deal with crimes committed towards the local rail system has once again yielded positive results, after a 48-year-old man was arrested for stealing copper and feeder cables.


A multidisciplinary team of both Prasa and SAPS members pounced on the suspect and found him with feeder cables worth a market value of R380 000 as well as copper cables worth a market value of R150 000.


"A bakkie and tools that were were allegedly used in the commission of the crime were also seized," said SAPS spokesperson Colonel Athlenda Mathe.


Mathe said the man has been detained at the Hercules police station in Pretoria and will appear before the Pretoria Magistrates Court on a date yet to be confirmed.

Four handcuffed for tampering with rail infrastructure


Meanwhile in another incident, four other suspects have been arrested and face charges related to tampering with essential infrastructure, in Germiston, Johannesburg.


"In another incident, a team in Germiston responded to reports that unknown persons were tampering with essential infrastructure. The team followed up on information and found four men in possession of copper cables worth a market value of R14 483. The tools that were utilized in the commission of the crimes were also seized," she said.


"Communities are warned against the tampering of essential infrastructure as this often leads to thousands of commuters stranded and in some cases may cause loss of life due to train collusion and derailment."


The vandalism of its infrastructure remains one of Prasa's main concerns and by extension, the Department of Transport. Minister Fikile Mbalula has said it cost hundreds of millions of rands a year to fix trains which have been damaged.


"In over 2 years, almost R1 billion has been lost due to either train burnings, vandalism of power stations, public disorder, train collisions or floods. These costs peaked in 2019 at R364 million," he has said.


The rail agency is not exempt from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic as Mbalula revealed during a written Parliamentary reply that most metro train stations in Gauteng do not have functioning electricity.


Prasa said due to the lockdown, vandalism and theft of its infrastructures has worsened.


"The station electrical functionality has been negatively impacted by theft and vandalism incidents which escalated during the national lockdown period," said Prasa spokesperson Makhosini Mgitywa.

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