POSSESSION of copper cables without a valid licence will soon attract a mandatory 10-year prison sentence without the option of a fine, under new regulations meant to deter vandalism of key utilities.
The Copper Control Act is being amended to raise the minimum sentence for illegal possession of copper from the current two years.
The Copper Control Amendment Bill, which was gazetted on Friday, will make it mandatory for all copper dealers to have certificates of origin for all the metal in their possession, once passed.
“The vandalism of utilities through theft of copper cables has been exacerbated by the non-provision of specific offences in relation to these acts and non-deterrent penalties in the Copper Control Act,” reads the Bill in part.
“In order to address the foregoing, the Copper Control Act should be amended to make it mandatory for all copper dealers to have certificates of origin for all the copper in their possession and impose minimum mandatory penalties for offenders.”
The proposed amendments also provide for the forfeiture to the State of any vehicle or devices used to transport illegal copper upon conviction.
The Bill also imposes a 10-year prison sentence for vandalism or tampering with utilities through theft of copper cables.
“Clause 4 inserts a new section that makes it mandatory for all copper dealers to have a certificate of origin for all copper in their possession. This certificate of origin will include the names and addresses of both the seller and the purchaser, the description of copper, quantity, reasons for disposal.
“This section will further set a minimum mandatory sentence of ten (10) years without the option of a fine for failure to produce a certificate of origin.
“For security reasons the certificate must be endorsed by the police in the prescribed form and manner to be provided by the police.”
Clause five provides for an amendment to Section 9 of the principle Act, “by deleting the penalty of a fine not exceeding level 8 or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years and make necessary substitution in order to bring the Act in line with the minimum mandatory of 10 years.”