In what is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, a principal technician employed by the country’s struggling power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), in Bulawayo has been arrested for demanding bribes from disconnected consumers to illegally restore power to their houses.
Fortune Muzata (45) was arrested on Monday in Bulawayo’s Northend suburb by the police’s minerals unit who had set up a trap for him.
Muzata was arrested for demanding $150 per customer to illegally reconnect electricity to their houses in Northend.
Zesa recently embarked on a power disconnection exercise in Bulawayo to recover outstanding payments.
Zesa has also engaged lawyers to sue consumers in Bulawayo owing money to the power utility.
NewsDay heard that Muzata was allegedly taking advantage of the situation to demand bribes to reconnect electricity to consumers.
Zesa was demanding $395 per customer in Northend to reconnect consumers to the power grid.
But Muzata, realising that most consumers could not raise that amount, allegedly took advantage of the situation to demand a $150 bribe per consumer.
Some customers in Northend who could not raise the amount reported Muzata to the police, leading to his arrest.
Detectives from the Mineral Section set up a trap by offering one of the Northend consumers, marked money to give to the Zesa principal technician.
Muzata was subsequently arrested when he was found in possession of the trap money.
Muzata is still in remand prison.
He is expected to appear in court after the conclusion of investigations.
Bulawayo police spokesperson Inspector Bhekimpilo Ndlovu referred NewsDay to the CID Minerals Unit spokesperson Detective Inspector Mbaiwa who however could not be reached.
There have been several reported cases of Zesa employees demanding bribes from consumers to reconnect them once their electricity is cut off.
Zesa is accused by residents of billing them exorbitant amounts.