BULAWAYO – Three police officers and a ZESA employee have been arrested for stealing electricity copper cables in Bulawayo’s Pumula East suburb.
Alert residents effected a citizens’ arrest on the suspects, before handing them over to the police.
Police say Pumula East resident Nelson Musharurwa was sleeping at around 2AM on Sunday when he was woken up by the sound of something being dragged outside.
Musharurwa alerted his neighbours by shouting “Thief! Thief!”
The residents picked up a trail and discovered 34 meters of overhead 2.5mm cables and 76 meters of single core cables worth US$7,000 dumped in a maize field. Close-by, one of the residents also located a police cap and a wallet with an ID of one Tapiwa Taruberekera.
A resident identified as Smart Dube, who was using his vehicle during the search, located a Toyota Starlet which was parked at a secluded place. The vehicle, it later emerged, is owned by Constable Tapiwa Taruberekera of Pumula Police Station.
An internal police memo seen by ZimLive says Taruberekera and two other police officers Constable Rodrick Tavuyanago, 34, and Constable Kudzai Wemba, 33, jumped out of the vehicle and began assaulting Dube. This prompted a man who was travelling with Dube to jump into the driver’s seat and race to where the other residents had assembled to inform them of the attack on Dube.
Taruberekera drove away when the residents arrived, leaving Tavuyanago and Wemba to face them. Only Tavuyanago, 34, who was in police uniform, had his police badge.
The residents assaulted the two police officers before calling Pumula police.
Police investigations led to the arrest of 49-year-old Jimu Demba, who is reportedly employed by ZESA as a loss control officer.
The vandalism of ZESA infrastructure is rampant across the country, costing power utility ZESA millions of dollars annually.
The copper cables typically end up with unscrupulous scrap dealers who melt it down, turn it into ingots and granules, before smuggling it to South Africa where there is a ready market.