by Brenna Matendere/Darlington Mwashita

Midlands regional magistrate Phatekile Msipa has slapped a Zesa cable thief with an effective 10-year jail term.

Johannes Tsikira of Gweru was convicted on his own plea of guilty to contravening section (3a) of the Electricity Act which prohibits receiving or taking possession of any material used for generation and transmission of electricity.

Prosecutor Calvin Guveya told the court that on Sunday night, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) security guards were on patrol at Dabuka Railway Station.

They got a tip-off that there were people who were digging up copper cables along the railway line near the station.

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The security guards laid an ambush and caught him on the spot while the other suspect fled.

The arrest of Tsikira led to the recovery of 25 metres of copper cables that had been dug up from underneath the railway line.

In passing sentence, Msipa said stealing copper cables was a serious crime.

“In the circumstances, a lengthy prison term will meet the justice of the case. It will also go a long way in sending a clear message to would-be offenders that crime does not pay,” she said.

Meanwhile, a security guard at Glenville Substation in Bulawayo’s Richmond area has been arrested on charges of vandalising a Zesa transformer and draining 380 litres of oil.

Tongai Machipisa (30) appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Lizwe Jamela on Tuesday. He was not asked to plead to the charge and was remanded in custody to January 17.

The State, represented by Denmark Chihombe, opposed bail on the grounds that Machipisa was likely to abscond if granted bail.

The court was told that on November 20 last year at around 11pm, Machipisa who was on duty at the substation, hatched a plan to steal transformer oil together with Prosper Alexius Shoko, who is still at large.

Machipisa and Shoko allegedly drained 380 litres of transformer oil and hid the consignment in the guardroom toilet.

It is the State’s case that ZETDC employees, who were on patrol went to Glenville Substation and met Tobius Chikura who was in a Toyota Paso vehicle parked 200 metres from the substation.

They asked Chikura why he was parked in the area and he told them that he had been hired by Shoko and Machipisa who were at Glenville Substation. They proceeded to the station and on arrival they took the national identity card of Machipisa and his cellphone.

It is the State’s case that Machipisa fled from the premises while ZETDC employees gave chase.

ZETDC employees later returned to the station and discovered drops of oil from the transformer leading to the guardroom where they recovered the 12 plastic containers with oil in the toilet.

ZETDC senior clients services officer Joshua Taruvinga identified the recovered transformer oil.
Police investigations led to the arrest of Machipisa.
The oil was worth $28 500.