By Nelias Shiri
A five-man gang from Mabutweni suburb in Bulawayo that pretended to be Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) workers attending to a fault in the middle of the night was arrested for allegedly stealing 80 metres of overhead copper conductors worth US$2 000.
Nkosilathi Ndimande (53), Njabulo Ncube (27), Trust Sibanda (28), Brighton Ndiweni (27) and Trevor Mungu (21) allegedly cut the cables at House number 58123/1 in Mabutweni suburb.
A whistle-blower, Mr Victor Ndlovu spotted the suspects at the scene and shouted for help from neighbours.
The gang pretended to be chasing “the real culprits” who had cut the copper conductors.
After some minutes, the quintet reported back to Mr Ndlovu and Mr Abraham Ngwabi, another resident who was awakened by the commotion, informing them that they had failed to catch up with copper thieves.
Mr Ndlovu and Mr Ngwabi did not believe the suspects. They made a police report leading to the arrest of the suspects.
The gang yesterday pleaded not guilty to stealing copper cables before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Rachel Mukanga.
The State represented by Ms Ashley Dube opposed bail saying the accused persons are facing a serious allegation of which if convicted will face a lengthy sentence.
She further said the accused persons are likely to abscond if granted bail considering the gravity and penalty of the crime committed.
Ms Mukanga remanded them in custody to May 4.
Prosecuting, Ms Dube said on April 24 at around 3AM the accused persons went to house number 58123/1 in Mabutweni suburb where they cut 80 metres of overhead copper conductors.
The value of the overhead copper conductor is US$2 000 and all was recovered.
Early this year police in Bulawayo smashed a well-organised copper cable theft racket, arresting four suspects leading to the recovery of 150kg of stolen copper worth US$12 000.
Zesa Holdings has this year sought a review of the mandatory sentence for criminals convicted for stealing power cables and transformers from 10 to 30 years to curb the vice that is prejudicing the power utility of more than US$2 million annually. The Chronicle