The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) has welcomed the sentencing of a former employee who was found guilty of cable theft by the by the Scottburgh Regional Court in KwaZulu-Natal.
Two PRASA security guards patrolling the rail reserve caught Sphiwe Mngadi and an accomplice in April 2018 with an estimated R1 million worth of copper. He could not explain why he was in possession of the 12 rolls of copper weighing approximately 192 kilograms.
“The security guards spotted him on our railway reserve in a PRASA marked vehicle. When the security guards noticed that the copper cables were removed they confronted him,” PRASA said on Wednesday.
The court found him guilty of tampering/destroying essential infrastructure in the Mkhomazi area.
“Though the sentence is below the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years’ imprisonment, it does send a strong message to some of our rogue employees who think they can continue stealing critical rail infrastructure unabated with no consequences.
“Indeed the tide is turning against cable theft. To date, 454 suspects have been arrested for vandalism and theft, a total of 118 court cases have been finalised amounting to a combined 764 years’ imprisonment,” PRASA said.
The agency commended the work of the National Prosecution Authority (NPA), the prosecution team and the South African Police Service (SAPS) investigation team for the successful conviction.
“We welcome the NPA’s commitment to put more focus on copper cable theft given the critical role that passenger rail plays in our economy. Only a partnership between our law enforcement agencies will we be able to fight cable theft.
“PRASA would like to also commend the security guards for reporting this crime and testifying in court to ensure that the perpetrator is brought to book. PRASA does not condone any acts of criminality within the organisation and we have strengthened our internal processes and investigations to root out employees who are hampering and sabotaging the business,” the agency said.