Criminals adapting to copper theft laws -expert

Billions of rands worth of copper is being lost in South Africa due to theft, South African Revenue Protection Association (Sarpa) technical adviser Rens Bindeman says.

The issue of copper theft has made headlines recently with parts of the Johannesburg city centre being plunged into darkness as a result.

Bindeman says while South Africa has put in place various initiatives, syndicates have adapted.

At one stage, we were talking about between R7-11 billion a year [being lost to copper theft].

Rens Bindeman, Sarpa technical adviser

He says a new system being suggested is the marking of copper that comes from infrastructure.

You find the copper but you can’t actually prove it’s been stolen… The biggest problem is there’s so much copper available, you can just take it because it’s everywhere, especially in the Joburg area…

Rens Bindeman, Sarpa technical adviser

Bindeman says the Second-Hand Goods Act is meant to deal with such issues and aims to crack down on dealers.

Police have also started a flash unit inside visible policing, through which they actually do disruptive exercises at scrapyards every month… They are tasked with doing a certain amount of these stings.

Rens Bindeman, Sarpa technical adviser

He says the world looks at South Africa to deal with the issue of copper theft and there’s a lot of action going on to disrupt these criminal units.

Bindeman says all scrap copper makes its way to Johannesburg before being exported.

There should be arrests in Joburg every day.

Rens Bindeman, Sarpa technical adviser

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