Police say they have arrested 12 people for allegedly stealing and vandalising Zesa equipment in Chakari and Gwanda.
The 12 are assisting police with investigations and will appear in court soon. According to the police, eight were arrested in Chakari near Chegutu in Mashonaland West while the other four in Gwanda, Matabeleland South.
Criminal Investigations Department spokesperson Detective Inspector Portia Chinho said the suspects were arrested by operatives of the Criminal Investigation Department Minerals, Flora and Fauna Unit.
Tapiwa Lice, Takawira Dube, Stanford Mukambiri, Shelton Kudzirunga, Blessed Kudzirunga, Isaac Kufakwepasi, Hebert Twadya and Edmore Kufakwepasi vandalised and stole Zesa equipment at Chavachese B Farm in Chakari.
They are facing charges of Contravening Section 60 (a)(1) of the Electricity Act, Chapter 13:09. “On 29 April 2019 the suspects went at Chavechase B Farm and tripped the overhead power cables on an ST Rupert 11KVA, said Detective Inspector Chinho.
They removed a 100 KVA transformer resulting in the spilling of the transformer oil. The suspects went on to strip the transformer and stole three copper windings, which they loaded into their gate away car.
The suspects, she said, were intercepted by police at a roadblock along Chegutu-Chakaari Road and they tried to evade arrest.
Police gave chase and the suspects’ vehicle landed into a ditch leading to the arrest of one of the suspects and the recovery of three Zesa transformer copper windings, she said.
The other suspects fled the scene but they were later arrested leading to the recovery of a heavy duty transformer MCB, a 30cm X 70mm copper cable and four transformer bolts from the suspects’ places of residence.
Detective Inspector Chinho said the other suspect Tawanda Mapfumo was still at large and his whereabouts are not known.
Meanwhile, detectives in Gwanda arrested four suspects for vandalism and theft of Zesa copper cables.
The quartet are Lungile Tshuma of Sizinda, Talent Kampaundi of Njube, Nkululeko Nkomo of Old Magwegwe and Henry Masaire of Lobengula West, Bulawayo.
Detective Inspector Chinho said the quartet was arrested on April 22, at Lungile Tshuma’s residence following a tip off.
She said the arrest led to the recovery of Zesa copper cables weighing 400kg. Investigations carried out, she said, established that the suspects had committed a spate of similar crimes in and around Gwanda.
Detective Inspector Chinho said the total value of stolen copper cables is $65 520 while copper valued at $26 208 has since been recovered.