By Garikai Tunhira
POLICE on Wednesday arrested two suspected copper cables thieves in Harare’s Hatfield low-density suburb.
Francisca Chakanyuka (41) and Pritchard Muchenje (23) are now being charged with contravening section 60A (3a) of the Electricity Act.
A police memo seen by NewsDay showed that on Wednesday, a crack team from the CID Minerals, Flora and Fauna Unit acted on a lead they had been following for three weeks to the effect that there was a safe house in Hatfield which was being used to store vandalised copper conductors.
The detectives then surveilled number 10 Goodman Road in Hatfield for four days until late Wednesday when they saw smoke billowing into the air from inside the perimeter wall.
They saw Muchenje burning a few cables at a compost heap along some dirty sacks to fuel the fire.
Some of the detectives scaled the perimeter wall while others entered through the main gate.
On realising that their base had been exposed and that they were cornered, Chakanyuka bolted out of the yard, but was quickly apprehended by the detectives.
They were questioned where they got the copper cables from, to which they implicated one Mai Yeu, who resides at an unknown address in Mufakose.
A search was then conducted and several sacks stashed with various descriptions of Zesa copper conductors, overhead copper cables, transformer windings weighing approximately 2 000kg and a big digital scale were recovered from one of the bedrooms of the house.
Zesa identified 185mm (used for the distribution of electricity from one substation to the other), 70mm (for the supply of electricity from a transformer to minimum voltage electricity lines) and 16mm (for the supply of electricity from MV lines to customer metre box) burnt armoured cables, which weighed 670kg and was worth US$131 320.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe identified 37 core copper cables used for transmission of communication signals for and among locomotives which are installed underground about three metres from a railway line.
They weighed 350kg and are worth US$28 700.
TelOne identified burnt underground telecommunication cables used for communication lines from exchange station to the customer premises.
They weighed 9kg and were found to be worth US$180.
The accused persons were also found in possession of scrap copper whose source they failed to explain, which weighed 612kg and was valued at US$12 240.
Total weight recovered is 1 641kg, valued at US$172 440.
The accused persons will appear in court today.