Home South African Copper worth millions stolen after being wrongfully seized by cops

Copper worth millions stolen after being wrongfully seized by cops


The NPA lambasted the police for wrongful arrests and seizure of R25 million worth of copper cable and railway lines.

File picture: Ihsaan Haffejee

JOHANNESBURG – In a startling case of police negligence, copper worth millions of rand, which was wrongfully seized from a company near Johannesburg recently, has been stolen from under the noses of police and security guards.

When the NPA lambasted the police for wrongly arresting Vivek Bharti and Bipin Kurian in October and in the process seizing and removing R25 million worth of copper cable and railway lines from the premises of their employer Pioneer Metals in Alrode East of Johannesburg, not many of the role-players quite expected what was about to unfold.

After the withdrawal of the charges against Bharti and Kurian on November 2, the police were obliged to return the copper and rail to Sachin Ahuja, the owner of Pioneer Metals. It turned out that the items had been lawfully purchased and that it should never have been seized in the first place. It further turned out that Bharti and Kurian were arrested unlawfully.

On November 13 The Star reported that the accused were set to sue the police and the NPA for damages for wrongful arrest and unlawful detention after it took them a week to be released on bail.

On November 20, Ahuja and his attorney Ulrich Roux went to the premises of Transnet in Germiston where the copper and rail had been taken, but were dumbstruck when they found that a considerable amount of the copper cable and railway lines had been stolen from the Transnet yard where the police and Transnet contractors, Fidelity, had placed it for safe-keeping pending the conclusion of the criminal case.

‘’Everyone was embarrassed to tell me that a lot of my material had been stolen. I have no choice but to sue the police, Fidelity and Transnet for the value of my stolen items. They took it unlawfully and failed to guard it. To remove it from the (Transnet) yard would have taken a crane to load and a few truckloads to remove. But no one saw anything they claim” Ahuja said.

Ahuja said that he may approach the police, Transnet and Fidelity for a round-table to discuss the matter. “I will first give them the opportunity to between themselves decide who is going to pay my damages and if they don’t act fairly I will take them to court. This whole circus started when the Fidelity investigators employed by Transnet didn’t know that Transnet had sold more than 100 tons of copper cable in the last few months on official auctions”

The Star has also been reliably informed that members of the police that entered the premises during the raid have been captured on video assaulting employees of Pioneer Metals and have been identified by IPID and will be arrested on Thursday.