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Criminal Matters Amendment Bill to fight cable theft offenders

30 October 2015

The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development is pleased with the approval of the Criminal Matters Amendment Bill by Parliament yesterday and see it as a step in the right direction in our efforts to root out all forms of criminal activities.

The amendments in this Bill propose for changes to the law pertaining to infrastructure-related offences by providing stricter provisions for the granting of bail and the sentencing of offenders. In addition, it proposes for the creation of a new offence to criminalise tampering with, damaging or destruction of essential infrastructure which may interfere with the provision of basic services to the public.

Introducing the Bill in Parliament yesterday, Minister Michael Masutha said this Bill is crucial in building a strong economy to ensure sufficient economic growth that will provide more employment opportunities which may eradicate poverty and eliminate inequalities.

He added that the goals of creating employment, eradication of poverty and elimination of inequalities can be achieved if there is appropriate infrastructure in place, provision of affordable and energy and effective transport systems in place.

“Presently, progress in achieving these goals is hampered by criminal activities. Essential infrastructure is at risk because of the high level of infrastructure related crime in South Africa. Metal in the form of copper, iron or steel is stolen and often such infrastructure is damaged”, Minister Masutha said.

In April this year, 179 metric tons of cooper were stolen from Eskom, Transnet and Telkom and the cost to replace the stolen metal amounted to R13, million and the loss to the economy is about R5-7 billion per year.

Minister Masutha said that this problem is exacerbated because these offences are becoming increasingly organized and are often committed by armed and dangerous criminals and this situation necessitates drastic legislative intervention.

“It should therefore be quite clear that the offences relating to essential infrastructure have a very negative impact on what we seek to achieve. Without energy, the public and the private sector cannot provide the necessary services, in some cases, causing the loss of lives. The delays in transporting passengers and even goods because of cable theft or theft of steel or iron have a negative effect on productivity,” he emphasized.

The Bill also effects changes to the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1977, to extend the application of the minimum sentencing (3-7 years) to essential infrastructure related offences to demonstrate the seriousness of these offences.

From the National Assembly, this Bill will go to the Select Committee on Security and Justice must consideration, then it will go the National Council of Provinces and finally to President Jacob Zuma for further consideration and signing.

Issued by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development  

Enquiries: Advocate Mthunzi Mhaga
Spokesperson for the for the Ministry of Justice and Correctional services
083 641 8141 /