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Government welcomes arrest of suspected cable thieves

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The government has welcomed the arrests of suspects in Johannesburg and Cape Town, whose vandalism has crippled the cities’ commuter trains, rendering 1.2 million daily passengers stranded for affordable transport to work.

Trains are the cheapest form of transport for commuters in South African cities, thus, their being disabled has woken up the government to another harsh reality, following the recent easing of the lockdown restrictions.

The five suspected thieves were allegedly involved in two separate incidents of tampering with essential infrastructure of the rail networks. These involved the theft of copper cables and train signal cables, the South African police said on Friday, 25 September 2020.

The cables, valued for the copper composition, are melted by the thieves before being exported to China and other Asian countries via Mozambique, they said.

One man was arrested after being found in possession of feeder cables, which are attached to powerlines over electric-power trains, and copper cables. The combined market value of the goods is approximately 31 000 dollars, equating to over R500 000, the police added.

The government commended the police for the breakthrough arrests in the theft and vandalising of rail infrastructure, saying the misdeeds were a serious crime which resulted in some instances in the loss of innocent lives due to train collisions.

“Public infrastructure remains the cornerstone of driving our economy. It remains a critical component in our drive to grow the economy and create the much-needed jobs.

“We call on all South Africans to report these criminal activities to the police,” the government said.

-APA

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