Two daring Bulawayo men, with a typically insatiable appetite for stealing copper cables, will live to rue their thieving habits after police used sniffer dogs to fish them out of a TelOne underground manhole, stealing cables.
They reportedly stole 231 metres of copper cables valued at US$20 000, in a 2-month thieving spree around the neighborhoods.
One of the suspects in the case has already been handed an effective 50-year-jail term after 20 years were suspended from the initial 70, on condition that he does not commit a similar offence within that period.
The duo of Pardon Sibanda (35) and Bishop Muleya (33), both from Bellevue, were arrested last week after they were caught in their customary criminal act, cutting off the copper cables in leafy Burnside suburbs.
Sibanda and Muleya targeted copper cables from TelOne underground inspection and maintenance manholes.
According to Bulawayo Metropolitan provincial police spokesperson, Inspector Abednigo Ncube, the criminal pair was nabbed by officers who were on patrol on May 2, with the help of police sniffer dogs.
“We arrested two suspects in Hillside area for destroying the material used for telecommunications. This was after our officers who were on patrol in Hillside area on May 2 at around 8PM spotted a car, Honda Fit parked in a secluded area,” Inspector Ncube told state media.
When one of the on-duty police officers got closer to the car, it sped off, he revealed.
“On arrival at the scene, police were led to a TelOne manhole by sniffer dogs and found Pardon Sibanda hiding. He jumped out of the hole and tried to flee but he was apprehended,” said Inspector Ncube.
Meanwhile, Muleya who was hiding in the bush near the manhole was also arrested by the police and they recovered a hacksaw, hammer and pair of pliers.
Bulawayo regional Magistrate Mark Nzira last Friday convicted Sibanda of cutting, damaging and removing telecommunication lines belonging to a telecommunication licensee in violation of the provisions of the Postal and Telecommunications Act.
Sibanda will now serve an effective 50 years imprisonment.
State Prosecutor Simbarashe Manyiwa told the court that, between February and April this year, the accused person hatched a plan to steal TelOne copper cables.
He proceeded to Donnington industrial area in Bulawayo on February 16 where he forced open a lid covering TelOne manhole, gained entry and cut two metres of underground copper cables and left unnoticed.
A week later, Sibanda reportedly went to an area at corner North Leach and Wellington Drive in Bellevue. His criminal escapades saw the now jailed convict stealing various amounts of copper cables in various areas such as Barham Green, Greenhill West Sommerton, Emganwini, Nketa and Hillside.
Zimbabwe’s telecommunications infrastructure has been perennially threatened by criminals who steal copper cables and subsequently sell them at competitive parallel market rates.
Additional Reporting: Zwnews