On 15 October, Reuters reported that South Africa’s economic woes are being compounded by the theft of massive amounts of copper from state companies Eskom and Transnet, much of which is smuggled overseas. Transnet Freight Rail said copper thefts had climbed 177% over the past 5 years and had risen particularly sharply during the COVID-19 pandemic, and hundreds of thousands of metres of cables were stolen in 2020, leading to about 20 trains being cancelled a day. Some South African scrap dealers buy stolen copper, melt it down, turn it into ingots and granules, which do not require scrap export permits, or remove identifying markers. It is said that smugglers typically sent scrap to Asian markets, often using export codes for shoes or textiles to avoid detection.
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