Sacci’s Copper Theft Barometer was ZAR11.1 million (US$1.2 million) in January this year compared to ZAR12.4 million (US$1.4 million) in December, Sacci said in a statement.
“This is the lowest level of the barometer since April 2009 and is a strong indication that the downward momentum seen in 2012 should continue into 2013,” the statement said.
Sacci said though the international copper price had an impact on levels of copper theft, “structural changes within the domestic environment” could be made to cut theft levels. Though copper prices marginally increased in January, Sacci said improved policing had caused a fall in the amount of theft.
“The progress already made against copper theft in 2012 by way of improved police cooperation with social partners as well as the groundbreaking institutional work done with the Second-Hand Goods Act should spill over into 2013. The outlook is therefore very positive,” the statement read.
Last year the South African Police Association (SAPS) vowed to intensify the war on cable theft, with SAPS spokesman Mininsi Zweli telling HumanIPO: “We want to see more and harsher convictions of these heartless criminals.”
Minister of Police Nathi Mthethwa said the police had declared war on such criminals.
“Cable theft should be viewed as a serious crime which has potential to negatively impact our economic growth as a country. We cannot allow that, hence our declaration of war on izinyoka (cable thieves),” he said.
Incidents have continued into this year, however. In January cable theft caused a train accident in Pretoria which cost the lives of two people and injured several of hundreds of commuters, with train operator Metrorail saying: “It’s time we recognise cable theft as attempted murder.”
Meanwhile, also in January, residents of Queenstown were left out of reach of emergency services after cable theft resulted in 600m of missing cables which caused a breakdown in communication abilities.