Four cable thieves appeared before the Rustenburg Magistrate’s Court on Thursday after they were arrested for stealing copper cables worth R200000 at Lonmin Mine.
Linda Pangeni, Rafael Matlamela, Joseph Mahlangu and Letlohonolo, were caught red- handed with the loot, explosives and cable extraction tools.
They were charged with trespassing, illegal mining, possession of stolen goods, malicious damage to property and the possession of illegal explosives.
Hawks spokesperson Capt Paul Ramaloko said yesterday: “They were caught red-handed with 2550kg of copper cables at Lonmin Mine.
“We have been told that the weight could fetch more, but we are, at the moment estimating it at R200000.”
Ramaloko said cable theft was a national problem affecting both the private and public sectors.
Telkom managing executive for network field services Theo Hess said the financial impact of cable theft on its operations over the last four years has run into the region of R2bn.
Metrorail spokesperson Lawrence Venkile yesterday said: “Our estimation is that losses to cable theft come to R60m annually. This does not include poles and other damaged infrastructure. We would like to ensure that we have a different environment when the new trains hit the ground in 2015.”
Most sectors heavily reliant on copper for operations said they were considering a shift to optic fibre which is of no value to cable thieves.
Cable Croc director Martin Labotski said the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) released a report announcing the viability of an anti-cable theft device which would reinforce concrete embedded cables.