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Following the arrest of an apparent habitual cable thief in Manenberg, the City’s ‘Copperheads’ are hoping for a successful conviction and meaningful sentence in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act.

The City of Cape Town’s Metals Theft Unit, commonly known as the ‘Copperheads’, is working closely with the South African Police Service and National Prosecuting Authority to secure a conviction against a suspected habitual cable thief.

The 43-year-old man was arrested on Friday 6 May 2016 after members of the public in Manenberg informed the Metals Theft Unit of an incident of cable theft. The suspect had left his loot at one of the houses in the area and a member of the unit, assisted by a detective from the local police station, found him threatening the residents to release his stolen goods. The two officers arrested the suspect on charges of theft, malicious damage to property, and intimidation. They also retrieved 23 metres of insulated electrical copper cable and a wire cutter.‘The residents who stood up against this criminal are the real heroes in this case and I applaud their efforts. We need more people to speak out about those who terrorise their communities with their selfish actions if we are to make a real impact in the fight against crime,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Safety and Security, Alderman JP Smith.

The case has been reported in terms of Section 18 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act of 2015. The act makes provision for a person convicted for tampering with or damaging essential infrastructure to be imprisoned for a period not exceeding 30 years. The most recent case from Eskom was tried under this Act and the three people convicted for the crime were sentenced to three, five and 15 years respectively.

‘We’re hoping for a similar outcome in this particular case. For far too long we have had to watch repeat cable theft offenders walk out of court with nothing more than a slap on the wrist. To add insult to injury, very often the same people would be arrested for the same offence on the same spot within a matter of days – all while communities continue to experience the misery brought about by cable theft. We finally have the legislation that treats cable theft with the seriousness it deserves and we need to put it to use in the courts,’ added Alderman Smith.

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