Wednesday 7 August 2019


POLICE in South Africa have arrested two Zimbabwe-bound suspects aged 30 and 40 found in possession of eight stolen solar energy back-up batteries for mobile phone base stations in that country.

The pair was arrested at the Beitbridge Border Post when their truck was searched during a stop and search operation.

It is believed the suspects were going to sell the batteries in Zimbabwe where acute electricity shortages have created a market for alternative energy implements across the entire nation.

In a statement on Monday, South African Police Service for Limpopo province Constable Maphure Manamela, said the suspects were expected to appear before a Musina magistrate.

“The prompt reaction by members of the South African Police Service in Musina led to the arrest of two men for possession of presumed stolen property during regular stop and searches operations at the Beitbridge Border Post.”

“The recovery of eight Vodacom tower batteries, occurred when a Nissan Hardbody with a trailer travelling from South Africa to Zimbabwe was on Saturday August 3, stopped at the searching bay of the border post,” Manamela said.

“During the search police found the tower batteries hidden inside the trailer. The driver and his assistant were immediately arrested.”

The origin and destination of the recovered items is still being determined through the ongoing investigations, although it has been established the batteries belonged to Vodacom, one of South Africa’s mobile phone network providers.

“The two suspects aged 30 and 40, will appear in Musina Magistrates’ Court soon on charges of possession of presumed stolen properties,” the police spokesperson said.

Zimbabwe is going through a punishing load-shedding regime where in some cases power is cut for up to 18 hours.

The shortages have been officially blamed on low water levels at the country’s hydro-electricity generation plant at Lake Kariba.

Opposition politicians, industrialists and other stakeholders have, however, blamed the punishing power shortages to lack of planning by the Zanu PF government, in charge since independence in 1980.

“These men and their party have not had any new plans ever since taking over power, they are bankrupt of ideas. A country like ours could be having and exporting power generated from several sources including renewable energy if there were plans made with the future in mind,” Beitbridge mayor Morgen Ncube, said.

“Now it looks like we are sending our citizens to steal from countries that have planned their acts. This is embarrassing.

“Over and above that these men have been failing to service debts of the countries that have been helping us with power. How do they honestly believe they can have a country running for free? Their corruption is stinking.”

Many Zimbabweans have resorted to solar and petroleum-based energy although the latter has become unpopular due to runaway fuel prices in the wake of cash shortages.

Solar kits are now in high demand for farming, domestic and industrial use.

The electricity shortages are likely to hit hard students sitting for final Ordinary, Advanced and tertiary examinations whose studies have been disrupted. Newsday


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