South Africa proposes stricter measures to combat copper theft

South Africa proposes stricter measures to combat copper theft

August 1, 2023

The Department of Trade, Industry, and Competition has proposed further restrictions on the export of semi-finished copper products, a temporary prohibition on the export of second-hand rails, and the subjecting of rails to export control.

Arista Nel of Global Trade Advisors writes that the proposal highlights the severe consequences of copper theft on the country’s electrical grid, as power outages become more frequent and widespread.

“Copper theft is a major problem in South Africa, estimated to cost the economy billions of rands each year.”

According to the department, the rising demand for copper on the black market has fuelled the surge in theft incidents, prompting authorities to implement stricter regulations and penalties. Despite these efforts, the problem persists.”

Nel emphasises that the proposed measures are designed to make it more difficult for criminals to monetise stolen copper.

“By restricting the export of copper semi-finished products, the government hopes to make it more difficult for criminals to sell stolen copper overseas.

By temporarily prohibiting the export of used or second-hand rails, the government hopes to prevent criminals from using rails to transport stolen copper.

And by subjecting rails to export control, the government hopes to track the movement of rails and prevent them from being exported illegally.

No information has been provided on how effective the other measures have been.”

The Gazetted proposal is open until 16th August for comment.

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