A Durban cable thief was sentenced to a 'landmark' 15 years in jail, the eThekwini municipality said. In a statement, the council said the accused had been arrested in 2017 with 500 metres of bare copper cable in Pinetown, west of Durban, reports TimesLIVE.

'The accused was caught by the neighbourhood watch patrols on 1 September 2017 at 1.30am. It carries an estimated value of R27 400. The area had experienced a power outage as a result of the man cutting the cable. Residents then contacted the patrols and he was caught and handed over to the police. Prior to conviction, he was detained at Westville Prison, awaiting trial,' the statement read.

Barbara Cloete, a forensic investigator from the infrastructure theft department said the conviction and sentence was a 'major victory'.

Cable theft was a major challenge as millions of rands were lost as a result of the crime, she said. The accused was prosecuted under the Criminal Matters Amendment Act 18 of 2015, which came into effect in June 2016.

It was designed to recognise the importance of essential infrastructure in providing basic services to the public.

It also focuses on the high incidence of crime relating to essential infrastructure and its impact on public safety, electricity supply, communications and transportation.

Full TimesLIVE report