COPPER cable worth R3.12bn was stolen from Eskom, Transnet, the Passenger Rail Authority of South Africa (Prasa) and Metrorail between April 2006 and December last year.
Pieter van Dalen, agriculture, forestry and fisheries spokesperson for the Democratic Alliance (DA), said on Wednesday that the figure had been compiled based on a series of parliamentary questions his party had put to ministers.
The most recent reply, from Transport Minister Ben Martins, said Prasa had R19.5m-worth of copper cable stolen during that time.
Mr van Dalen said copper theft came at a great cost to the public purse, curbed service delivery and hurt the economy as a whole, trickling down to affect economic growth, productivity and job creation.
"These effects ultimately hit poor South Africans the hardest," he said.
He urged national government departments and state-owned enterprises to replicate what he called the success the Western Cape provincial government had had in dealing with copper cable theft.
"The lesson we have learnt is that specialist, in-house copper theft prevention units work," he said. "Eskom’s losses are much lower than Transnet’s, specifically because Eskom has an in-house copper theft prevention unit."
The copper theft barometer, as measured by the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Sacci), declined to R17.9m in June this year from R23m in May and R27.5m in April.
It was the third month of substantial declines in the barometer since a peak of R34.7m in March.
Sacci’s copper theft volume indicator, which indicates how much copper is stolen as opposed to a rand value of what is stolen, recorded 288 tons in June, down from 356 tons in May — a 19% drop on a monthly basis.
The declines in both the barometer and volume indicator confirmed that copper theft levels had dropped substantially over the course of the second quarter of this year, Sacci noted.
With Ntsakisi Maswanganyi
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