Every day in South Africa, criminal elements strip copper from wherever they can find it, including roads, homes, construction sites, and mines. The theft of copper from already ailing infrastructure severely affects the capacity and operations of state-owned entities and municipalities.

Our South Africa Strategic Organized Crime Risk Assessment found that the country’s critical infrastructure was ‘at a tipping point after years of chronic mismanagement and rampant theft’, and identified copper theft as a contributing factor.

This report focuses on the consequences of copper theft and how it affects South Africa’s infrastructure. It also examines the value chain and market for stolen copper and how organized crime has become entrenched in these areas. Finally, the report explores what measures have been taken to combat copper theft and what further measures could be taken in the future.

This document draws from an extensive review of articles, papers and media reports, interviews conducted with a number of stakeholders in the copper sector, and previous work undertaken in compiling the South Africa Strategic Organized Crime Risk Assessment.