The Cape Town High Court on 12 February 2021 sentenced five cable thieves for fifty counts of copper cable theft-related charges.
The sentences, which were detailed by Eskom in a recent statement, carried a cumulative jail term of 1,250 years for the charged.
“The shortest jail term meted out to some of the thieves is a minimum sentence of 15 years,” Eskom stated.
“Two other accused who were charged in the same matter died during the trial, and were found guilty posthumously,” it added.
The stolen copper cables were the property of Eskom and Telkom and were stolen between 2016 and 2018 in the Namaqualand and Western Cape regions.
Eskom’s Acting Head of Security Karen Pillay said the utility hoped the hefty sentences would send a strong message to all potential thieves to refrain from targeting Eskom overhead and underground conductor cables.
“Section 3 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act stipulates that any person found guilty of essential infrastructure crime such as cable theft shall be liable on conviction to a period of imprisonment up to 30 years,” Pillay said.
“We shall work fearlessly and tirelessly with other industry role players and law enforcement agencies to ensure that all thieves involved in essential infrastructure crimes face the full might of the law,” she added.
The theft of copper cables has been a significant contributor to power outages, as well as downtime of Telkom’s ADSL services in the last few years.
Eskom repeatedly warns people about the dangers of cutting copper cables on its network and has even posted explicit videos of thieves who were critically injured in attempting to do so.
The utility urged the public to report information regarding conductor theft to the Eskom Crime Line number at 0800 11 27 22.