The City of Cape Town is offering cash rewards for information about copper cable and metal theft, which in 2006 cost the council R22-million, as part of its clampdown on corruption and theft.
Four people, who asked to remain anonymous, each received rewards of R2 000 at the city's whistleblower award ceremony on Monday. The four informed the city in January of illegal water connections in Philippi.
The information led to an internal audit investigation which confirmed that two Philippi farmers had made illegal connections to the city's water supply.
The farmers had stolen water to the value of more than R2,2-million. A complaint of theft has been made with the police and the farmers will have to reimburse the city for the stolen water.
Mayor Helen Zille said at Monday's awards: "Like the whistleblowers with us today, we will reward anyone who can give us information that will lead to the conviction of cable thieves. This city will not tolerate any form of corruption or theft."
Zille said the city's task team, comprising investigators and a rapid response unit, would respond to reports of copper theft.
The team, chaired by councillor Pieter van Dalen, will arrest copper cable thieves and hand the cases to the SA Police Service for investigation.
"However, the city cannot fight cable and metal theft without the assistance of the other spheres of government," the mayor said.
Zille said the city would join the Cape Chamber of Commerce in its appeal for a judicial commission of inquiry into cable theft and the export of copper from the province.
The city would hold a summit with scrap dealers, Business Against Crime and the Cape Chamber in June to look at ways of reducing the circulation of stolen scrap metal. The Western Cape reportedly exported copper worth R77-million to China in 2006, despite having no copper mines.
"But most importantly we rely on individual members of the public to come forward with information so that we can take decisive action and stop the theft of ratepayers' funds."