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Cable thieves handed 15-year prison sentence
The Bronkhorstspruit Regional Court this week sent a stern warning to all those involved in cable theft when it sentenced two men convicted of cable theft to 15 years in prison.
The two - Sibusiso Shongwe (25) and Andrew Khumalo (39) - were arrested in March 2016 when they were found in possession of aluminium conductor cable belonging to Eskom. When questioned, the sus­pects confessed to the crime and pointed the police to where they obtained the cable.
A search of the suspects’ Ford Bantam bakkie also revealed that the license disc on the vehicle be­longed to a similar shaped Mazda Rusler, which, according to Rakau, raises suspicion as to what other crimes the suspects were involved in.
“It is a common occurrence when criminals are arrested to find that they are also involved in other crimes,” he said.
“This is why we always urge residents to report all crimes to the police. It is only through a collective ef­fort that we can eradicate crimes such as drug dealing, burglaries and hijacking that plague all of us as South Africans.
“We are satisfied with the outcome of this case. The sentence sends a strong message to would-be criminals and those already involved in cable theft that the law views this crime in a very serious light, and that the penalty for those who are caught can be very severe,” said Tebogo Rakau, Divisional Exec­utive for Security at Eskom.
“It might seem like the only victims of cable theft are organisations like Eskom and municipalities who have to bear the cost of replacing stolen cable and damaged infrastructure. But the effects suffered by society can be even worse, including prolonged shutdown of factories, which leads to loss of productivity and job cuts. Unplanned power outages resulting from cable theft also affect healthcare services at clin­ics and endanger the lives of people who are on life support equipment at home,” he added.
In December 2015, President Jacob Zuma signed into legislation the Criminal Law Amendment Act. Un­der this Act, the theft of ferrous and non-ferrous metals is classified as infrastructure crime and carries a minimum prison sentence of no less than three years for a first-time offender, five years for a second offence and no less than seven years for a third offence.
“We thank all those who have helped us in the fight against cable theft and electricity theft, and urge more people to report these crimes by sending their anonymous SMS tip-offs to Crime Line on 32211.”