RESIDENTS from Kumalo suburb were on Tuesday morning engaged in a fierce battle with suspected copper cable thieves.
The suspects however managed to escape and left the cables lying idly in one of the resident’s yards.
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company acting western region general manager Mr Lloyd Jaji confirmed the incident, saying some of the copper cables had been recovered although he could not specify the exact amount.
In a viral video circulating on social media platforms, one of the residents is heard explaining how the house owner heard movement outside of her home at 3 am, before alerting neighbours through the residents’ WhatsApp group.
Residents that woke up to assist tried to ambush the thieves, who unfortunately managed to escape.
“We are losing a lot of cables and it becomes hard to supply suburbs that have never had electricity. As it is we have cable supply that is on its way but it will be all used on replacing stolen cables instead of supplying suburbs like Emthunzini and Cowdray park which have never had electricity. Law enforcers need to do more in ensuring that the whole syndicate is busted so we know where the thieves are taking these cables,” said Engineer Jaji.
Meanwhile, a 32-year-old copper cable thief ran out luck on Wednesday when he was spotted trying to pack the stolen goods in a bushy area by a man conducting prayers nearby.
Tyson Ncube from Nketa was driving a White Toyota Hilux when the informer spotted him and tipped off police who came in just in time before he could load the stolen cables into his car.
The 4 x 50m copper cables had been hidden inside a swamp near Greengables farm in Umguza by Ncube and two accused persons who are still on the run.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Abednico Ncube confirmed the incident yesterday applauding members of the public for helping police curb copper cable theft which has seen the disruption of services due to erratic power supplies.
“On Wednesday around 11AM, a male adult was conducting prayers in a bushy area near Greengables Farm, Umguza when he saw the Ncube dropping off two accused persons about 50 metres away from where he was praying. The other two accused persons started rolling and hiding copper cables in a swampy area whilst Ncube drove off,” said Insp Ncube.
“He then immediately phoned the police who reacted and intercepted Ncube who was driving away. Ncube was interviewed and he denied any wrong doing before police searched his motor vehicle and recovered nothing.”
Insp Ncube said police officers searched the area and they recovered an orange electricity marshalling kiosk, a black electricity breaker and 02 cooling fans on the ground.
“They also recovered 4×50 metres of Zesa underground copper cables which were hidden in a swamp. Ncube was arrested and we are appealing to anyone with information that may lead to the arrest of the remaining two accused persons who are still at large to report at any nearest police station.”
he thefts of copper cables have had a direct negative impact on operations of Zesa Holdings, the country’s power utility and signal systems of the National Railways of Zimbabwe.
Zesa on several occasions reported losses running into millions of dollars due to copper cable thefts.
This has disrupted the provision of service, with some households and businesses enduring long periods without electricity. Bulawayo residents are facing the brunt as the local authority has imposed an indefinite suspension of water supplies due to power challenges.
The power utility has reportedly been losing over US$2 million annually to theft and vandalism of its infrastructure.