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Cable thief electrocuted in Bulawayo

by ZimLive Cite
03 Aug 2019 at 16:58hrs | Views
Residents of Burnside suburb in Bulawayo woke up to a strange sight overhead: a dead man suspended on ZESA electricity cables.

The unidentified man is suspected to be a copper cables thief electrocuted after power was restored unexpectedly on Thursday night. His body was not discovered until sunrise.

Theft of copper cables - already a perennial problem in Zimbabwe - is very high during load shedding which sometimes lasts up to 18 hours daily.

The Bulawayo Fire Brigade and ZESA engineers worked for almost an hour to bring the man's charred remains to the ground in a dignified way.

Ross Johnson of the Burnside Neighbourhood Watch Committee said: "I got a call at around 6:15AM from one of the residents and I rushed to the scene. I called the police and Fire Brigade to alert them about the incident."

Kwanele Khanye, ZESA's senior client service officer, said the man was already dead when their engineers arrived at the scene, his life snuffed out instantly by the cables which each carry 11 kilovolts.

"He was trying to steal an 80-metre copper cable but power came on and he was zapped. The copper cable was recovered. He couldn't have been alone, he probably had a team with him. These people who steal copper cables are usually from Harare, Zvishavane and Gweru," said Khanye.

"Last week they stole about 600 metres from this same area and they were probably trying their luck again when one of them got electrocuted."

On July 23, police said three men were arrested after a Bulawayo resident startled by sparks from overhead cables went outside to investigate and found three thieves having already cut 1,800 metres of copper cables.

The thieves jumped into a car and drove away but the resident gave chase in his vehicle and caught up with them. He retrieved the fleeing vehicle's car keys and directed police to their location, police said.

ZESA says vandals are costing the power utility over US$1 million monthly in stolen cables and vandalised transformers.

The stolen cables usually end up in South Africa where getting rid of them seems to pose no problem for the thieves. Stolen copper reportedly fetches about R70 per kilogramme on the black market in the neighbouring country.

Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele of Bulawayo police said: "Bulawayo has been hit hard by theft of copper cables which has crippled businesses in the city."

When found and prosecuted, copper thieves can face upwards of 10 years in prison.

Source - ZimLive - Cite