stolen copper wire.jpgA Kwekwe magistrate, Tendai Mahwe, has slapped two men with a 50-year jail term each, after they pleaded guilty to theft of copper cables worth more than US$37 000.

Isa Mutamba and Leornard Mupotegwa, both of Redcliff in Kwekwe, were facing four counts of contravening Section 60 of the Electricity Act, Chapter 18(19).

Mutamba and Mupotegwa were each sentenced to 20 years on the first count and 10 years for each of the three other counts, totaling 50 years imprisonment.

Their co-accused, Simbarashe Nkomo who also pleaded guilty, was slapped with 20 years.

It is the State’s case that on December 31 last year, acting on a tip off, police caught Mutamba and Mupotegwa red handed offloading 1 481 kilogrammes of stolen copper cables at Mutamba’s house.

The two were arrested and they implicated five others including Nkomo who have already been sentenced, while four others are yet to stand trial.

The sentence is one of the stiffest penalties given by the courts under the Electricity Act.

Those convicted of one count of theft of copper cables can be sentenced to a period not exceeding ten years.

Cases of vandalism and theft of copper cables have been on the increase and the crime has cost the government billions of dollars.

Parastatals that include the National Railways of Zimbabwe, ZESA and Tel-One are the major organisations which have been affected by vandalism and theft of copper cables.