Produced by Adel van Niekerk - Thursday 17, 2011
Economic terrorists! This is what captains of industry want copper thieves to be branded. There’s been growing calls for copper cable thieves to be charged with economic sabotage, a move that can see life sentences handed down in these criminal cases.
The economic impact of the crime in South Africa is strong enough motivation – a staggering R7 billion in financial losses per annum. This week on Special Assignment we highlight the impact of copper cable theft on our economy and investigate who mainly benefits from this organized crime.
As our investigative team discovers, copper theft does not take much – a few rudimentary tools, loosely organized criminal groups and a selling point such as the thousands of unregulated backyard scrap metal dealers across the country. This copper is eventually shipped off to the east, specifically China where the demand for copper has shot through the roof.
Watch Special Assignment every Thursday at 9pm on SABC3
Once copper cables are stripped bare, there is little to no chance of identifying who it belonged to or whether it was stolen. This leaves so-called bread and butter thieves paying the price on their own when they’re caught, while large scrap metal dealers who turn multi-million rand profits walk off scot free.
For more information:Special Assignment office: (011) 714-6757/8