South Africa plans to prohibit the export of scrap metals to reduce theft of copper cables that have crippled the power supply and stranded trains.

Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel has published proposals in the government gazette, outlining ways to combat the trade of ferrous and non-ferrous waste and scrap metal.

The first of three proposed phases suggests a six-month ban on exports of scrap metal. Future steps include a new, enhanced registration system for scrap buyers and sellers, improving monitoring, policing and law enforcement, as well as limiting the ports and border posts for trade in scrap metal.

Legislation changes have also been proposed to make it more difficult to trade stolen copper and metal.

The export of metal provides a crucial monetisation channel for criminals, and the nation’s ports and borders are not adequately resourced to prevent the export of stolen scrap and semi-finished metal products, the government said.

The public and interested parties have 21 days to comment on the proposals, the gazette notification said.

(Editing by Cleofe Maceda;