BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
COPPER thieves should not be given an option of a fine, but a mandatory 30-year jail term, part of the proposals to the Copper Control Amendment Bill submitted to Parliament by the Home Affairs ministry reads.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) blames vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructure for plunging most parts of the country into darkness.
The company has said it is losing millions of dollars annually through theft and vandalism of its infrastructure, particularly copper lines, cables and transformers.
Despite the offence attracting a 10-year jail sentence, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe said this was not deterrent enough. He called for the removal of an option of a fine for the alleged perpetrators accompanied with a 30-year mandatory sentence.
“The copper control offences are similar to those covered by the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19) which attracts a penalty of 30 years. Therefore, for consistency and deterrence purposes, I propose that the penalty be amended to 30 years imprisonment as suggested by Cabinet,” Kazembe said as he read the proposed amendments to the Copper Control Amendment Bill in Parliament.
The Bill seeks to provide penalties for vandalism and theft of copper cables and for all copper dealers to have a certificate of origin for the copper found in their possession.
“The clause (clause 5) amends the term of imprisonment that may be prescribed for illegal dealers of copper where copper is found at their premises,” he said.
“In clause 6, the Bill seeks to increase the term of imprisonment to 10 years without the option of a fine, from that of a fine not exceeding level eight for illegal possessors of copper by amending section 10 of the Act. The penalty should also be increased to 30 years with the reasons highlighted under clause 5.”
Reports say transformers are stripped of their copper windings, oil, bolts and nuts, while clean transformer oil has been traced to restaurants where it is used to fry food due to a high-burn point.
Transmission pylons on the other hand have been stripped of angle irons, nuts and bolts, which have a ready market among scotchcart makers.
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