Ray Bande and Abel Zhakata
A NUMBER of families in Mutare’s Chikanga, Sakubva and Dangamvura have woken up without electricity in their homes after breakers were stolen from their meter boxes during the night; while theft of transformers and copper cables has left some parts of Manicaland in total darkness.
In Chipinge this week alone, detectives arrested four suspects who had vandalised Zesa transformers and stole copper cables.
The cunning suspects exploited power cuts and vandalised selected transformers each time power was cutoff.
CID Chipinge District spokesperson, Assistant Inspector Vincent Chikuvadze confirmed the arrest of Tinashe Chiseno (28), Chisomo Eseni (38), Steyn Tagwireyi (41) and Charles Mashaya (41) over the theft.
The quartet is facing charges of contravening Section 60A 3(b)of the Electricity Act, Chapter 13:19, which criminalises vandalism of any apparatus for generating, transmitting, distributing or supplying electricity.
Assistant Insp Chikuvadze said the latest offence was committed on April 25 at Tingamira Estate in Tanganda.
He said on the day in question, detectives received information that a taxi driver had been contracted by the suspects to pick them up with their loot.
The suspects were at Tingamira Tea Estate where they had vandalised ZETDC transformers and extracted copper coils.
The taxi driver advised the detectives of the road he would use after picking the suspects.
“During that night, the police lay an ambush along the said road and the taxi was intercepted by the detectives. A search was contacted in the vehicle and copper cables and coils with a street value of US$2 000 were recovered.
“During questioning, the suspects revealed that they had stolen the loot from a ZETDC transformer,” said Assistant Insp Chikuvadze.
He said stolen copper coils are often smuggled to South Africa where they are sold at higher prices.
“The offenders take advantage of power cuts when some of the apparatus is not in use,” he said.
In Mutare, more thieves are on the prowl.
The disturbing thefts of meter box breakers has seen at least one case being reported almost every day at various police stations across the city.
Manicaland provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Luxson Chananda, confirmed that the police have detected an increase in the number of meter box breakers’ thefts.
“There has been a steady increase in the thefts of breakers from meter boxes. Between March 16 and March 23, we had six cases in Zimta Park and Chikanga Phase 3. The cases are still under investigation,” said Insp Chananda.
Investigations conducted by The Manica Post revealed that the stolen electricity breakers are being sold at give-away prices to traders at Sakubva Musika.
The traders then sell the electrical equipment to unsuspecting clients.
A 60-amp electricity breaker is being sold for US$10 at Sakubva Musika.
Insp Chananda urged residents to secure their electricity meter boxes.
“It is wise for residents to ensure that their meter boxes are secure to minimise such cases,” said Insp Chananda.