Wednesday 29 March 2023


THREE copper thieves including a woman have been sentenced to a mandatory 10-year jail term each for stealing electricity copper cables.

The trio of Prisca Mupini (39), Prince Darawanda (28) and Sydney Mungofa (32) were each slapped with a 10-year jail term by Gweru regional magistrate Mr Christopher Maturure.

Mupini, Darawanda and Mungofa pleaded not guilty to the charges.

They were convicted after a full trial.

Two other accused persons in the case, Perfect Chiromo (22) and Christian Nkosana (23) were acquitted at the close of the state case.

For the State, Mr Talent Tadenyika told the court that on January 27, Darawanda and Mungofa hatched a plan to cut copper cables in the Woodlands suburb in contravention of the Zimbabwe Electricity Act.

The court heard that the accused persons then carried the copper cables and hid them in a busy area just after Gweru River bridge along Matobo Road.

The following day at around 5AM, they were seen by a police officer who was doing morning exercises packing copper cables in sacks, loading them in a purple Honda Fit vehicle.

The motor vehicle then drove towards Gweru city centre. A follow-up by police was done leading to the arrest of the accused persons and subsequent recovery of three sacks with copper cables.

A blue bolt cutter and a digital weighing scale were also recovered.

The copper cables were weighing 50kgs valued at US$1 000.

The copper cable thefts have had a direct negative impact on the operations of ZESA Holdings, the country’s energy supplier.

This has disrupted service delivery, with some homes and businesses left without power for long periods.

Signaling systems of the National Railways of Zimbabwe have also been affected.

In the first quarter of 2022, 15 cases of copper theft from the NRZ infrastructure were reported, resulting in the NRZ losing 1,067.58 kg of copper cables. Telecommunications company TelOne has also suffered major losses from copper cable thefts. TelOne said it is considering moving away from copper cables that have been targeted by thieves. In 2021, the company lost $1.5 million due to network disruptions due to infrastructure vandalism. Last year, the company said More than 300 incidents of vandalism were registered on the network, a 27 percent increase over the previous year.

TelOne said the biggest loss to the company from vandalism was loss of business due to voice and Internet service disruptions, which also disadvantaged its customers. Chronicle


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