Columbus Mabika-Herald Reporter
THE Government has moved in to clamp vandalism and theft of copper cables, a senior official has said.
The move is meant to curb the rampant vandalism of copper cables which is prejudicing Government utilities, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) Holdings, National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and TelOne billions of dollars annually.
Giving oral evidence before Parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence and Security on the Copper Control Amendment Bill and the Police Bill, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs and Cultural Heritage, Mr Aaron Nhepera, said illegal copper dealer’s days are numbered as Government moves in to impose stiffer penalties for those found trading the minerals through a legislation.
The development comes after the Government last year suspended the issuance of licences for dealing in scrap copper pending the amendment of the Copper Act.
Mr Nhepera said regulations for obtaining copper licences were being changed to shut out briefcase companies who were stealing copper.
He said the legislation will strengthen the current legislation on copper control.
“The copper Amendment Bill sets out the key areas that have been found lacking in the regulation of copper dealings since enactment of the act, further the Bill provides mandatory sentence for failure to produce a certificate of origin being set a minimum of 10 years without the option of a fine” he said
“Clause 6 provides for the insertion of two sections which are 10 A and B, 10 a places a minimum of 10 years’ imprisonment penalty for a person who vandalises utilities through theft of copper cables and their accomplices, while on the other hand 10B makes it a criminal offence to deal in or being in possession stolen copper.”
He said the bill will provide for the offence of vandalism of utilities through the theft of copper cables, provide for the offence of dealing in stolen copper, provide for a requirement for all copper dealers to have details of origin for the copper they deal in and specify the penalties for these offences
Mr Nhepera said, the Bill was making it mandatory for every copper dealer to have a prescribed certificate for all copper in their possession.
“In order to ensure that there is legal acquisition of copper and that the where about of copper is determined, it was prudent to insert a new section that makes it mandatory for all dealers to have a certificate of origin of the copper in possession, the current Act introduced a clearance certificate which is obtained from the police when a lawful trade is made. The clearance is not enough to curb against illegal possession of copper in that it does not define the copper origins hence should work hand in hand with the certificate of origin,” he said
The certificate, he said will describe the origins off the copper and should be endorsed by the police officer when passing it from one person to the next and should include names and addresses of both seller and purchaser or anyone who might have been in possession of the copper, the description of the copper, quantity and reasons for disposal.