Johannesburg – State-owned freight utility Transnet has condemned the continued attack on strategic economic infrastructure, which has been on the rise in recent months.
“The increase in the number of cable theft incidents leads to train cancellations and volume losses,” Transnet said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Transnet’s security team, in collaboration with a number of law enforcement authorities including railway police from SAPS, the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation, National Intelligence Agency amongst others continue to make headway in the fight against cable theft.”
The utility said approximately six kilometres of overhead cables have been stolen from a number of different rail network corridors in South Africa in the past 24 hours, with the Natcor line being the worst hit.
The Natcor line, which operates 22 trains a day transporting automobiles, domestic coal, general freight and agricultural goods, is one of the strategic corridors delivering goods to Gauteng – the country’s economic hub – from KwaZulu-Natal.
According to Transnet, other targeted rail networks include the Central Corridor, which services the automotive industrial parks in Pretoria and the North-East Corridor servicing the mining industry, including coal export to Richards Bay.
Transnet Freight Rail technical teams were working around the clock to restore parts of the affected rail network.
The joint security efforts have yielded positive results with two separate convictions totalling 18 years of imprisonment achieved in the Mpumalanga province this month and an arrest of 87 suspects linked to the crime in August.
Transnet urged all its stakeholders including scrap metal, foundries and smelters businesses to refrain buying overhead cables from unregistered traders.
“We also encourage members of the community to report any suspicious activities using the TFR’s anonymous hotline number 0800 003 056 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,” the utility said.
African News Agency (ANA)