A Zimbabwean man has been jailed for 15 years for the theft of copper cables from a farm in Limpopo, according to IOL.
The Musina Regional Court found the Zimbabwean national, Shepard Munorwa, 30, guilty of tampering with essential infrastructure, theft of copper relating to essential infrastructure, and illegal immigration.
Munorwa and his accomplice stole electric cables from a private farm and were caught by a security company. However, the accomplice managed to escape the scene, according to the National Prosecuting Authority.
The theft of the cables interrupted basic service delivery on the farm.
What transpired in court:
During the trial, the Zimbabwean national pleaded not guilty to the offences.
State prosecutor, Jan Krijt, submitted that the country was currently experiencing unprecedented levels of cable theft.
Krijt argued that the owner of the farm had suffered a loss of R500 000 in past years as a result of cable theft and had even appointed a security company (to stop the ongoing theft.
The prosecutor further submitted that there were no substantial or compelling circumstances to reduce the prescribed minimum sentence.
Therefore, the court jailed the Zimbabwean national for 15 years for tampering with essential infrastructure, theft and illegal immigration.
The court ordered the sentence in counts one, two and three to run concurrently. They further declared the accused unfit to possess a firearm.
Theft of Copper Cables in SA:
Like in Zimbabwe, copper cable theft is a big issue in South Africa, where criminals steal copper cables from infrastructure like electricity and communication networks.
This causes problems like power outages and communication disruptions. The theft is driven by the high demand for copper, which is used in many products.
The government has tried to tackle the problem through law enforcement and regulations for scrap metal dealers, but the issue persists. Some municipalities are trying to use alternative materials to deter thieves.