By Martin Mawaya
Provincial magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa has slapped two men to a mandatory sentence of 10 years each in prison for stealing railway copper cables valued Z$28 000.
Tafadzwa Devine Wafa (28) of Mbizo, Kwekwe and Tinashe Tafadzwa Moyo (22) who resides in Makokoba, Bulawayo pleaded guilty to the charges of contravening section 60A (3) (b) of the Electricity Act chapter 13:19 which prohibits cutting, damaging, destroying or interfering with the apparatus for generating transmitting, distributing or supplying of electricity.
Delivering the sentence Provincial Magistrate Msipa said the accused persons committed a serious offence.
“The accused persons have committed a serious crime that attracts mandatory sentences of not less than 10 years unless there are reasonable circumstances which may warrant this honorable court to disregard the set prison term; however the accused persons failed to prove before this court that they are not the candidates for mandatory punishment,” she said.
State council Kelvin Guvheya told the court that the accused persons acted unlawful and should be punished severely.
“The accused persons have played an act of sabotage that warrant mandatory punishment because replacing of the copper cables comes with huge costs,” said Guvheya.
Allegations are that on the 11th of February 2020 the two connived with Panashe (who is still at large) and proceeded to Gweru-Kwekwe railway line at Nala area where they dug the electric armored copper cables using a digger and a shovel.
The court heard that the trio cut the cables into pieces of different sizes using a hacksaw. They burnt some of the electric armored copper cables and retrieved copper wire which they put into a sack and went to sleep at a distance place from the scene.
Whilst the three were asleep, the NRZ security guard Makuwise Kizito saw them while patrolling with the tracker dog and sought assistance from passerby’s to apprehend the trio.
Two of the accused persons were arrested and one of their accomplices fled. The burnt copper wire, rolls of copper cables, a hacksaw, a hacksaw blade, black polythene plastic paper, a muttock handle and the electric copper cables weighed 46kgs and copper wires weighed 24 kgs was recovered and used as evidence in court.