The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has called for stiffer penalties for rail infrastructure vandals and thieves saying the current 10-year jail term is not deterrent enough.
So far 15 people have been convicted, with some getting 10-year jail terms each. Fifty-five cases of rail infrastructure theft and vandalism are still pending at the courts.
NRZ spokesperson Martin Banda urged the Legislature to review the law, adding that the 10-year mandatory jail term was no longer deterrent.
Banda told NewsDay that NRZ was, however, grateful to the country’s law enforcement agencies for the role they are playing in the fight against theft and vandalism of railway infrastructure, which continues to negatively impact rail operations.
“Since the beginning of the year, 80 criminal acts against railway property were recorded resulting in loss of property worth US$50 951. Property recovered during the same period was worth US$111 317. The property recovered is higher than property stolen because during the course of investigations, property stolen years back was also recovered,’’ Banda said.
“The NRZ is happy to note that the Judiciary is imposing heavy jail terms on people convicted of stealing NRZ property. In eight cases, the magistrates imposed the mandatory 10-year jail term on thieves. Thefts of copper cables constituted the majority of the cases with 39 incidents, followed by gold panning within railway reserve land (21 cases), theft of rail components (14 cases), and theft of masts (6).”
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Collaboration between the NRZ’s loss control, security branch and government security agencies resulted in 70 people being arrested for contravening sections of the Railways Act.
“Of these cases, 15 people have been convicted while 55 cases are pending at the courts. The NRZ is happy to note that the Judiciary is imposing heavy jail terms on people convicted of stealing NRZ property,” Banda said.
He added that the NRZ would soon conduct campaigns on vandalism and theft, rail and road level crossing safety, effects of illegal gold panning on rail infrastructure, dangers of stone-throwing as well as whistle-blowing campaigns to fight vandalism of rail equipment and infrastructure.
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