Railway-cable theft still rife

Residents took a picture of a suspected railway-cable thief.

Bonteheuwel continues to be plagued almost daily by railway-cable theft, says ward councillor Angus McKenzie.

According to him, cables between Bonteheuwel and Netreg stations are targeted daily.

Rail commuters had to find alternative transport on Monday November 4 when cable theft delayed and cancelled trains.

Bishop Lavis police spokesman Warrant Officer Joseph Swartbooi, said scrapyards were fuelling the crime as they offered a source of quick money to cable thieves.

On Monday December 2, law enforcement officials stopped a man from stealing cables in Netreg after 190 metres of cable were dug up.

The man was electrocuted after attempting to steal more cables three days later, according to Mr McKenzie.

“What has become alarmingly sad is that cable thieves are rather electrocuting themselves vs being prosecuted through SAPS and the criminal justice system,” said Mr McKenzie.

“SAPS have the ability to charge cable thieves under the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, which would allow these individuals not to get bail but it would appear they are not doing so.”

On Wednesday December 4, residents took pictures of men again trying to steal railway cables.

When law enforcement arrived, the men ran away as they were tipped off by residents on a gang-watch group chat, according to Mr McKenzie.

“A lot of these groups are filled with gangsters and guys who steal cable so they are warned before law enforcement or SAPS can apprehend them,” he said.

Community of Bonteheuwel Association chairman Abie Clayton said: “People don’t even worry to complain about this anymore because the police does nothing about it so people just ignore it now.

“This problem has been coming on for years already and now it’s just gotten worse. They don’t even care if they shock to death, the one follows the other one and they just do as they please as long as they just don’t get caught.”

Warrant Officer Swartbooi said that on Friday November 29 police arrested a 29-year-old man for being in possession of railway cables.

The man appeared in the Bishop Lavis Magistrate’s Court on Monday December 9 for a bail application which was denied.