Battling metal and cable theft

Officers of the City of Cape Town’s Metal Thefts Unit have been given greater powers in the fight against metal and cable theft.

The City of Cape Town announced that the Minister of Police, Nathi Nhleko, has extended greater powers to City Law Enforcement in terms of the Second-Hand Goods Act, which will significantly bolster the municipality’s efforts to clamp down on metal and cable theft.

Minister Nhleko has, under Section 31(1) of the Act, extended powers contemplated in Chapter 9 to law enforcement officers in the Metals Theft Unit.

This means that officers in the City’s Metals Theft Unit now have the authority to do routine inspections and enter the premises of registered dealers in order to investigate compliance with the Act, enter and conduct searches and seizures, and seal off premises at which second-hand goods are found in order to prevent a person from conducting business in contravention of the Act.

In addition, law enforcement officers will now have the power to execute warrants on properties.

“By empowering the officers of the Metals Theft Unit, the City’s efforts to fight metal and cable theft will be greatly strengthened,” Mayor Patricia de Lille, said in a statement.

She added: “Residents and businesses are often grossly inconvenienced and frustrated by crippling criminal acts such as cable theft from the electricity and the Metrorail systems.

“There is also a severe impact on the City’s own operations, with more than R40 million lost in two years due to metal theft where manhole covers, fire hydrants and water meters were stolen. Metal theft is a major problem in our city due the growing demand in illegal trading circles. The illegal trade of metals costs the country between R5 billion and R7 billion a year.

“With the extension of powers granted, the City’s officers in the unit can now expand their activities and act without delay and with full authority.

“The City has been lobbying for these powers for more than five years and had written to the previous Minster of Police, Nathi Mthethwa, since 2011 requesting an extension of powers due the widespread problem of metal and cable theft in the City of Cape Town. I am pleased that our request has finally been considered and granted as this will empower the Metals Theft Unit to fulfil their mandate in a more effective and efficient way.”

The extension of powers in terms of the Second-Hand Goods Act was gazetted on Tuesday February 14.