The South African government’s proposed scrap metal policy will introduce a transaction tracing system to make it difficult for criminals to hold and sell stolen cable copper and scrap metal, Fin24 news site reported, citing Trade, Industry, and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel.

The government believed the new measure was an appropriate solution to curb the theft of scrap metal and copper cable from public infrastructure than a wholesale ban on trading the material, he told the Parliament.

The government released the draft scrap metal policy earlier this month, which proposes prohibiting using cash in any transaction involving scrap, waste, or semi-finished metal to make all legal transactions involving scrap traceable. 

He said the cost of metal theft exceeded 46 billion South African rands ($2.7 billion), citing Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies and Genesis Analytics.

The minister said South Africa had a 600 000 kilometres network of rail and electricity lines and hundreds of thousands of physical sites that are vulnerable to attack.

“The proposed policy seeks to shift from trying to monitor thousands of locations to disrupting the networks and increasing the costs on the syndicates. We will then be able to win the battle against copper cable and scrap metal theft,” Patel stated.

In August, the government proposed prohibiting the export of scrap metals to reduce the theft of copper cables that have crippled the power supply and stranded trains.

(Editing by Seban Scaria )