- Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula led several raids in Gauteng to recover stolen Prasa infrastructure from scrap metal dealers
- Mbalula emphasised that the justice system ought to play a key role in ensuring that offenders are bought to book
- South Africans headed to social media to react to Mbalula's latest comments, with many citing he was all talk and no action
PAY ATTENTION: Click “See First” under the “Following” tab to see Briefly News on your News Feed!
JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula emphasised that stiffer measures should be enforced to deal with scrap metal dealers in Gauteng.
He made the comments at the site of several raids amid a joint search-and-seizure operation between law enforcement and the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) in the province on Thursday, citing drastic steps would need to be taken to "close the tap at the source."
News24 reported that tons of copper were recovered, spurring Mbalula to stress that laws must be tightened to clamp down on scrap dealers. He warned that while the element of surprise was vital to catch those who are a party to the illicit business, a strong message needed to be sent.
"[What we see here] is economic sabotage. The book must be thrown at those enabling this criminality by closing down their businesses. The courts need to dole out penalties that will serve as a deterrent for stolen scrap metal trading," said Mbalula.
PAY ATTENTION: Never miss breaking news – join Briefly News' Telegram channel!
"The raids form part of a multi-faceted strategy to deal a decisive blow to the unrelenting criminality that paralyses our railway environment. We won't rest until we have done away with this criminal enterprise that aids theft and vandalism of public assets," Mbalula said.
"This is one of many initiatives Prasa has embarked on ensuring the recovery of stolen infrastructure and curtailing these syndicates from profiting from the destruction of public infrastructure."
Prasa has suffered severe loss of critical infrastructure, including theft of electricity cables, signals, and overhead lines. Mbalula said most of the losses occurred during Level 5 lockdown in 2020, adding that Prasa employees are responsible for some of the theft, the Jacaranda FM website reported.
"This criminality is not against Prasa but South Africans as a whole. It disrupts the movement of commuters, goods and costs the South African economy," added Mbalula.
Locals lament lack of action
Vocal South Africans took to social media to react to the earlier raids. Locals slammed Mbalula, accusing the minister of being "all talk and no action". Briefly News takes at some of the loudest reactions below.
@Jill Warner wrote:
"What a joke! Talk talk talk but do nothing! You should have woken up years ago."
@Wonder Seema said:
"Are you threatening them, not taking any action Mr Fix it all? It's like you enjoying this economical damage."
@Annelize Van Wyk added:
"There is a law that deals with it! Just apply it properly - The Second Hand Goods Act 6 of 2009."
Driver's license card printer back in operation
Elsewhere, Briefly News recently reported that Mbalula cut a delighted figure on Wednesday last week as he announced that the country's only driver's licence card printing machine was finally back in working order.
As if South African motorists had not had their fill of poor road infrastructure, record fuel price hikes, and then some, the 20-year-old machine's near three-month-long dysfunctional state only served to worsen an already bad headache.
It had reportedly broken down on 7 November before adding to an existing backlog of expired driver's license holders waiting in line to get their reissued cards. Revealing that the only machine of its kind in SA was again printing cards, Mbalula took to his verified Twitter handle, writing:
"Good morning SA, yesterday I visited the staff at the Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA), spending the afternoon with them. The licensing card printer has been repaired and is in working order. The staff is pulling day and nightshift to ensure your license are made and delivered."
Source: Briefly News