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Copper cables thieves sentenced to 20 years

by Staff reporter
19 May 2018 at 14:55hrs | Views
TWO men have been sentenced to 20 years in jail for stealing Zesa cables worth $1 925 from a power line in Figtree.

Mbekezeli Phiri (39) and Cabangani Ncube (34) were caught by security guards after cutting Zesa cables at Cyrene Mission.

Their third accomplice Bhekimpilo Nkiwane was convicted and sentenced earlier after pleading guilty to the crime.

Phiri and Ncube pleaded not guilty to charges of damaging or interfering with any apparatus or material made for generation or supply of electricity before Bulawayo regional magistrate Mr Joseph Mabeza.

However, the magistrate convicted them due to overwhelming evidence and sentenced each of them to 10 years in prison.

In mitigation, Phiri — a father of seven — said he committed the offence as he had been promised better living conditions for his family.

"We are living in dirt and I committed the crime trying to fend for my big family. I wanted to take care of my children so that some day they will be teachers and nurses. I thought I had been hired for a job little did I know that cutting the cables was an offence," he said.

Ncube maintained that he did not commit the offence even after the magistrate had convicted him.

Prosecuting, Mr Tinashe Dzipe said the three were caught by security guards while stealing the overhead Zesa cables on December 13 last year.

"When they were cutting the cables, they were caught by Madodana Ndlovu, Bukhosi Moyo and Sign Mawire, security guards at Tragic Security Company which is contracted by Zesa," he said.

"The three ran away, but the security guards caught Phiri and arrested him. Upon arrest Phiri implicated the two and they were later arrested."
Meanwhile, police in Matabeleland South have launched a manhunt for thieves who stole 1 854 metres of copper cables worth $10 924 in Gwanda and Esigodini areas.

Matabeleland South acting provincial police spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Joram Sithole said the culprits stole 1 600 metres of copper cables worth $9 424 on Wednesday from Gwanda while 254 metres worth $1 500 were stolen from Esigodini on Thursday.

He said the copper cables which had been stolen from Esigodini were recovered while those stolen from Gwanda had not yet been recovered.

"We have launched a manhunt for thieves that stole copper cables on Wednesday and Thursday in Gwanda and Esigodini areas. We suspect that this could have been the same gang but we are yet to ascertain that.

"On Wednesday at around 4PM, an informant alerted police that copper cables had been stolen from a line that stretches from Zimbabwe Open University Offices in Gwanda to Eskimo Lodge premises. Police attended the scene and discovered that 1 600 metres of overhead copper cables valued at $9 424 had been stolen. The culprits had fled the scene and their identity is unknown,"  Asst Insp Sithole said.

He said on Thursday at around 3AM, thieves cut off 254 metres of copper cables at the 42 kilometre peg along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road.
Asst Insp Sithole said in the process, the thieves triggered an alarm which alerted the police.

When the police arrived at the scene, the culprits had fled the scene and left the copper cables behind.

"We appeal to members of the public with information that could lead to the arrest of the culprits to approach any police station near them. It is important for these culprits to be arrested as they are posing a threat to the nation's economic growth," said Asst Insp Sithole.

In February this year, Mr Mabeza sentenced three Bulawayo men to a total of 30 years in prison for stealing Zesa copper cables in Figtree.

Albert Ndlovu (42) from Mpopoma suburb, Gift Soganile (29) and Thamsanqa Dube (22) both from Nketa 9 suburb were sentenced to 10 years each in prison for cutting and stealing 1,2m of copper cables.

Source - chronicle