Cable theft: Government acts tough

by | Mar 24, 2021 | Crime & Courts, Local News | 0 comments

Mako Jerera

Cabinet has approved deterrent measures aimed at minimising vandalism and theft of power utility cables which ZESA has been grappling with.
Over the past five years, Zimbabwe has lost more than US$10 million in replacing vandalised public property –including copper cables- under the purview of ZESA.
The Copper Control Amendment Bill which the cabinet adopted yesterday stipulates a 30-year prison sentence with no option for a fine.
Speaking at yesterday`s post-cabinet briefing, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the impending law will make it illegal for any person to possess copper without a certificate of origin.
Copper stolen from Zimbabwe is sometimes illegally taken to South Africa where there is a thriving black market, according to reports.
Government is seeking to finally plug the leaks.
Minister Mutsvangwa said; “The Bill makes it illegal for any person to possess copper without a certificate of origin for that copper.
In order to curb theft of copper, the Police will require anyone found in possession of copper to provide the names and addresses of both the seller and the purchaser, description and quantity of the copper and the reasons for disposal.”
Vehicles or devices used to illegally transport copper will now be forfeited to the state.
The law is set to save the country millions as it bears a deterrent sentence on those who would have been caught breaking the law.
Punitive sentences are not unique to Zimbabwe, in February a Cape Town court sentenced five copper thieves to a cumulative 1250 years in prison.
This was after they had been charged and found guilty of 50 counts of copper theft, damaging infrastructure that belongs to Eskom and Telkom.
The sentence suggested in the Copper Control Amendment Bill is similar to Section 3 of the Criminal Matters Amendment Act in South Africa which stipulates that any person found guilty of essential infrastructure crime such as cable theft shall be liable on conviction to a period of imprisonment up to 30 years.