Cable theft should be treated as an act of economic treason.

While most of us were preoccupied by the political events taking place in SA, from the passing on of former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa to the Bell Pottinger and KPMG sagas, something of greater magnitude was taking place in the Johannesburg CBD. Cable worth about R50m was stolen, which had a devastating ripple effect on the economy, jobs and the movement of citizens of our city.

In some instances workers had to be sent home because their offices and workplaces didn’t have electricity. Businesspeople are still counting their losses — and in some extreme cases, they won’t be able to recoup these, so they will be shutting down their businesses, adding to the job-loss bloodbath.

Where were our law-enforcement agencies? I think it’s about time our lawmakers moved swiftly in regulating the scrap-metal industry. It has become a haven for criminals, where they can dispose of their loot for a few rand.

It is in this context that cable theft must be treated as economic treason and the harshest sentences be meted out to all involved.

This includes those workers who connive with criminals and give them valuable information about how to steal copper cables. Johannesburg is the heartbeat of our economy and contributes 34% of GDP.

Such acts of criminality must not be allowed. As citizens and ratepayers of our city we should work together with our city officials and law-enforcement agencies in combating these crimes. Cable theft must be declared economic treason and be dealt with as such.

Mafika Siphiwe Mgcina 

ANC caucus, Gauteng legislature, Johannesburg

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