BY NKOSENTSHA KHUMALO
RESIDENTS of Queens Park East in Bulawayo have accused Zimbabwe Electricity, Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) employees of colluding with thieves in the theft of electricity copper cables.
The residents made the accusations after ZETDC engineers removed over 1 000 metres of intact copper cables to prevent theft in the area, but only to return later demanding contributions towards the purchase of aluminium cables to replace copper cables they had removed.
ZETDC senior client services officer Kwanele Khanye, however, said engineers had removed the copper cables in question for safekeeping.
“Zesa was told to recover the remaining copper cables so as to safeguard them from thieves. We will replace the wires once we find more aluminium conductors,” Khanye said.
Queens Park residents chairperson Munetsi Chinjekure claimed that the removal of copper cables had resulted in over 40 households being plunged into darkness.
“Affected houses are on Shetland Drive, Tyrone Road, Muir Road, Worthing Road and Hairbright Road. We tried numerous times to plead with Zesa to do repairs in some parts of our suburb. At one point, we spotted a Zesa truck moving around during odd hours carrying a ladder, but after calling ZETDC leadership to confirm, they told us the truck was not supposed to be around that location. On the same night, cable thefts were reported in Tyrone,” he said.
“We also noted that on March 9 2022, power went off at 2am and was restored the next day at around 10am and two cases of cable thefts were reported. Those transmission poles are too high and need ladders, hence we suspect Zesa employees.”
ZETDC Western region manager Lloyd Jaji said: “Our major aim right now is to capture the thieves first after recovering the copper cables.”
Energy and Power Development minister Soda Zhemu said: “Can you please send questions to my number.”
He had not responded to them by the time of going to print last night.
The power utility is losing infrastructure worth millions of United States dollars annually to vandalism and theft of cables and transformers.
Despite the offence attracting a mandatory 10-year jail term, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe has argued that this is not deterrent enough, with lobbyists now calling for a 30-year custodial sentence.
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