Thursday, 5 May 2022

COP FALLS OFF ROOFTOP CHASING SOLAR PANEL THIEF, DIES

A BEITBRIDGE-BASED police officer died when he fell off a rooftop while apprehending a suspected solar panels thief.

Soon after the incident, the thief committed suicide while in detention at the local police station.

The police officer sustained critical head injuries and was pronounced dead upon admission at the Beitbridge District Hospital.

National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi yesterday confirmed the tragedy that occurred in Kwalu 1 suburb (SDP).

He said the matter was now under full investigation.

Asst Commissioner Nyathi said the incident occurred on Tuesday.

“We confirm the death of a police officer and a suspected solar panels thief in Beitbridge on Tuesday evening,” he said.

“Preliminary investigations reveal that the suspected thief was spotted on a rooftop by members of the community while attempting to steal solar panels at a property.

“Our police officers then swiftly reacted to the call and upon arrival one of the police officers tried to apprehend the suspect. They both fell to the ground and the police officer sustained critical injuries and died at the local hospital”.

Asst Comm Nyathi said the solar panels’ thief was arrested and taken to the Beitbridge Main Police Station.

He was detained in a cell with three other people who had been arrested for different offenses and he later committed suicide.

He said investigators had since interviewed the three cellmates about the suicide.

“This is an unfortunate incident and full investigations are now underway, and we cannot release the names of the deceased at this stage,” said Asst Comm Nyathi.

The property owner, Ms Marian Mbedzi, said she was still shaken by the incident which occurred in the presence of her children aged seven and 11.

She said they had received counselling from neighbours and her extended family members.

“I am still shocked, this is a frightening experience for me and my children. However, we are getting moral support from neighbours and the family,” said Ms Mbedzi.

The use of solar energy has become common in new suburbs around Beitbridge town, where the Zimbabwe Electricity and Distribution Company (ZETDC) has been grappling to connect new homes to the electricity grid.

It is estimated that there are over 3  000 properties in the newly built areas, where residents have to make use of solar energy and also sink their own boreholes and use septic tanks.

As a result, thefts of solar panels and related accessories have become a perennial headache for residents in the area.

Beitbridge Town Clerk, Mr Loud Ramakgapola recently said the town had completed connecting 500 properties in the newly built suburbs to water and sewer reticulation facilities.

He said council was mobilising more resources to connect all the outstanding properties to water and sewer reticulation facilities.

Mr Ramakgapola said the programme was being rolled out in phases. Chronicle

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