Sixteen people were arrested on Tuesday night after being found in possession of copper stolen from the City’s underground tunnels.
The accused were apprehended at different locations around Johannesburg following a tip-off that a scrapyard owner in Langlaagte is part of a cable theft syndicate.
City Power spokesman Sol Masole said the suspects are foreign nationals and one of them will face an additional charge of bribery after he offered officers R10‚000 during his arrest.
“Two of the accused are from India‚ one is from Cameroon and the rest are undocumented. We are very pleased with the bust. We hope it will send a message to other criminals that law enforcement agencies are serious about combating crime‚” said Masole.
Metro police spokesman Chief Superintendent Wayne Minnaar said the accused will appear in the Johannesburg Magistrate’s Court soon.
A large part of Johannesburg has been without power since Sunday as cable thieves gained access to the city’s underground tunnels and burnt power cables feeding the city.
Mayor Herman Mashaba said a specialised metro police unit will exclusively deal with copper theft.
“The work of combating these syndicates requires a professionalised approach of a dedicated unit with knowledge‚ skills and networks to be effective. Through the work of this unit we will ensure that thieves who steal our copper cables will be left with no choice but to find it easier to operate anywhere other than the City of Johannesburg‚” said Mashaba in a statement issued by the City of Johannesburg.
City Power technicians have started repairing damaged cables in the underground tunnels but it is not yet clear when will power be restored in affected areas.
“City power once more apologises to all affected customers. We are doing everything we can to ensure that electricity is restored as speedily as humanly possible‚” said Masole.
Source: TMG Digital.