Starting from today‚ infrastructure vandals and criminals who are caught in possession of public infrastructure such as electric cables, water pipes and others will not be getting off easy as before. They will have to face harsher punishment if they are found guilty by a court of law.
As stated by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, the implementation of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act of 2015 will be put into motion as from Wednesday.
The amendment act which is now taking effect was signed into law by President Jacob Zuma in December last year.
According to the provisions of the law, infrastructure vandals will face stricter measures relating to bail and sentencing if found guilty. Only the courts will decide on bail applications for essential infrastructure related crimes.
This act restricts the authority of the police and prosecutors to grant bail to suspects charged with essential infrastructure-related crimes.
In the case of a corporate body, the act further provides for the possibility of up to 30 years imprisonment or a maximum fine of R100-million.
The act is expected to boost investor confidence in the country and encourage them to invest more bearing in mind that their business is secured.
“The public sector and the private business cannot operate fully without communication capabilities if Telkom cables are stolen. This situation necessitates drastic legislative intervention‚” Justice Minister Michael Masutha stated on Wednesday.
October 2015 saw the South African economy losing to a tune of about R5.7-billion per year following the incessant theft and vandalism of essential infrastructure in the country.
The announcement was made few days after Telkom announced it’s increased efforts to migrate customers to wireless and fibre technologies so as to tackle copper cable theft syndicates.
The telecommunications company said cable theft cost it over R200-million in the 2015 fiscal year, R100 million in the cost for direct cable theft repair plus an additional R107-million which was spent on security services.