Tuesday, 15 March 2022


THREE Bulawayo-based police officers who were on Sunday arrested for allegedly stealing copper cables worth US$7 000 in Pumula East suburb, appeared in court yesterday to apply for bail pending trial.

Residents effected a citizen arrest at about 1AM. One of the cops was nabbed while wearing his service uniform while his accomplices were in civilian clothing. They were allegedly found in possession of 23,5kg of stolen cables.

Tapiwa Taruberekera (39), Rodrick Tauyanago (34) and Kudzai Wemba (33) all operating from Pumula Police Station, appeared before Western Commonage resident magistrate Mr Shepherd Mjanja facing charges of contravening Section 60A (3) (a)(b) of the Electricity Act (cutting, damaging, destroying or interfering with copper cables for generating, transmitting, distributing or supplying electricity).

They were remanded in custody to today for ruling on their bail application.

In their application for bail through their lawyer, Mr Tinashe Dzipe of Morris Davies and Company, the three cops are denying the charges, saying the State failed to proffer compelling reasons warranting their continued detention.

They said there was no evidence linking them to the offence, arguing that they were just victims of circumstances as they were arrested about 1km away from the scene.

The trio claimed that the cap, which was found at the scene of the crime was planted.

Mr Dzipe said his clients were innocent until proven guilty hence they were entitled to their constitutional right to bail.

He said the State’s view that his clients will abscond once released on bail was not supported by objective facts, arguing that the three accused persons were of fixed abode and gainfully employed.

The trio offered to pay $25 000 bail each and to report twice a week at Nkulumane Police Station as well as to continue residing at their given addresses.

The State, which was represented by Miss Mellisa Dube, opposed bail, arguing that given the seriousness of the offence and the mandatory 10 year-jail term for copper theft, there was no guarantee that if released on bail, the three will not abscond.

She said there was overwhelming evidence linking the accused persons to the offence.

“The State is opposing bail for the accused persons because they are likely to abscond if released on bail.

They are also likely to interfere with State witnesses and jeopardise investigations as some of the stolen property was not recovered,” said Miss Dube.

“In the interest of justice, the accused should be remanded in custody pending trial.”

Prosecuting, Miss Dube said on March 13 in the early morning hours, the three police officers were spotted by a Pumula East resident near his house while stealing overhead copper cables belonging to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC).

The resident alerted other residents and they teamed up and pursued the accused persons and apprehended them leading to the recovery of 23,5kg of copper cables worth US$7 000.

The court heard that one of the police officers managed to escape from the scene and rushed to Pumula Police Station where he falsely reported that he had been attacked by robbers in Pumula East.

The three police officers had parked their car, a Toyota Starlet, about 1km away from the scene of crime.

Bulawayo has of late been hit by a series of power outages mostly due to copper cables theft, with several suburbs such as Hillside, Burnside and Killarney being the worst affected.

Police in Bulawayo recently smashed a well organised copper theft racket and arrested two suspects and recovered 150kg of overhead copper conductors worth US$12 000.

The ZETDC is now in the process of replacing copper cables with aluminium ones.

Zesa Holdings is seeking a review of the sentence for individuals convicted of stealing power cables and transformers from 10 years to 30 years to curb the vice that is prejudicing the power utility of more than US$2 million annually.

ZETDC requires more than US$14 million to procure intruder detection gadgets to fight the scourge that continues to bleed the power utility.

The power utility has since invited whistle-blowers to curb the upsurge in vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructure. Chronicle


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