The United National Transport Union (UNTU) would like to congratulate the Hawks, the specialised priority crime unit of the South African Policy Service (SAPS) and Transnet’s investigation unit on the spree of arrests nationwide on the thieves targeting Transnet Pipelines.

Yesterday five suspects appeared in the Sasolburg Magistrate’s Court after allegedly being caught red-handed extracting oil from a Transnet fuel pipeline.

Steve Harris, General Secretary, of UNTU who represents the majority of Transnet employees, says the arrest came after Transnet employees noticed a significant drop in pressure from the fuel pipeline at Taaibos farm in Zamdela, Sasolburg in the Free State.

Two weeks prior to this incident two suspects were arrested by the Hawks in Rustenburg in the North West Province for impersonating the lawyers of two suspects who was caught allegedly stealing diesel. It is alleged that they attempted to bribe the investigating officer in the case.

The two suspects are facing charges for the theft of diesel worth more than Four Hundred and Fifty Thousand Rand (R450 000.00) at an underground pipeline site.

Over the last few months more than Sixty (60) arrests were made and more than Twenty (20) tankers and about Sixteen (16) vehicles were impounded.

“UNTU is proud of the excellent teamwork between Transnet employees, private security companies, the communities and the Hawks. Transnet Pipelines covering Three Thousand kilometres’ (3 000km) is a national key point. This strategic petroleum and gas pipeline infrastructure are vital to the South African economy,” says Harris.

To date more than Twenty (20) suspects have been arrested in relation to vandalism of the pipeline infrastructure and theft.

Harris says according to Transnet its current revenue is Seven Hundred and Thirty-Six million rand (R736 million) lower than budgeted due to the theft incidents. Transnet Pipelines had to spend more than Twenty million rand (R20 million) to improve its security.

UNTU would like to repeat our appeal to all South Africans to join efforts in the fight against fuel theft.

Because of theft, the tampering and damage caused to the pipeline remains the biggest threat to the security of fuel supply, particularly to the inland areas.

These illegal activities pose a danger to nearby communities, due to the inherent dangers of tampering with high-pressure petroleum pipelines, which could result in fire incidents, causing serious injuries and/or fatalities to the perpetrators and communities.

The pipeline is classified as essential infrastructure, therefore tampering, or colluding to tamper, is a Schedule 5 offence in terms of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act, Act 18 of 2015. The maximum sentence for this offence is Thirty (30) years imprisonment.

Please report any illegal activity by using this toll-free number – 0800 203 843.

Issued on behalf of UNTU by Sonja Carstens, Deputy-General Secretary: Media, Liaison and Communication. For UNTU press releases phone Sonja at 082 463 6806 or e-mail sonja@untu.co.za.


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