Tafadzwa Chibukwa, Chronicle Reporter
RESIDENTS of Hillcrest suburb in Bulawayo have gone for a week without electricity after thieves stole copper cables along Berkshire Avenue in the suburb.
The copper cables thieves struck on Tuesday last week resulting in the power outage.
Bulawayo suburbs such as Hillside, Burnside, Mpopoma and Entumbane have of late been hit by a series of power outages mostly due to copper cables theft.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC) is now in the process of replacing copper cables with aluminium.
Yesterday, a Chronicle news crew visited Hillcrest suburb and came across electricity poles that have been stripped of cables.
In interviews, residents said cases of copper cables theft were on the increase.
Mr Perfect Ndlovu said he was alerted by his dogs which were barking on the night the copper cables were stolen.
“I woke up due to the noise from the barking dogs and when I peeped through the window I noticed some electricity cables lying low. I became suspicious and immediately screamed to scare away the thieves but it didn’t work,” he said.
Mr Ndlovu said he then blew a whistle to alert neighbours who later teamed up with him and they then chased after the thieves who escaped under the cover of darkness.
He said the thieves left behind two cables that they had cut.
Mr Ndlovu said when ZETDC workers arrived at the scene the following day, they took the cables which were left hanging.
“When the Zesa workers came the following morning, they took the remaining cables and left on the understanding that they would return to fix the problem but up to now some houses have no electricity,” said Mr Ndlovu.
Another resident, Ms Sibongile Moyo said thieves were now taking advantage of the power blackout to steal from their houses.
“We have gone for a week now without electricity and what is worrying us as residents is that thieves are taking advantage of the darkness to break into our houses,” she said.
Mr Elmon Nsingo said: “When Zesa came here they gave us an assurance that they would replace the cables the following day but up to now we have no electricity.”
He said cases of theft of copper cables in the suburb are on the increase.
Mr Nsingo said a few months back, thieves struck in the same area and residents were forced to contribute money for Zesa to replace the copper with aluminium.
“This time again, Zesa has asked residents to contribute money to buy at least 200 metres of aluminium to replace the stolen copper cables,” he said.
Power cables thefts and transformer vandalism is prejudicing Zesa Holdings of more than US$2 million annually.
Possession of copper cables without a valid licence now attracts a mandatory 10-year prison sentence without the option of a fine under new regulations meant to deter vandalism of key utilities.
The Copper Control Amendment Act has been amended to raise the minimum sentence for illegal possession of copper from two years to a mandatory 10 years.
Government last Friday gazetted the Copper Control Amendment Act, 2022.
According to the new Act, it is now mandatory for all copper dealers to have certificates of origin for the metal in their possession.
According to the Act, courts have been empowered to forfeit to the State any vehicle or any other device used in transporting the illegal copper. –@Sagepapie14
Article Source: The Chronicle