Thupeyo Muleya Beitbridge Bureau
Two Zimbabwean men were last Thursday evening severely burnt while illegally drawing fuel from a pipeline in Kendal area near Phola, South Africa.
Ngoni Nyamuruma (25) and Vimbai Magorosi (35) have since been arrested and are recuperating at Witbank General Hospital under police guard.
South Africa’s organised crime unit, the Hawks is now investigating the matter.
Hawks spokesperson, Captain Dineo Sekgotodi said the suspects will appear at the Phola Magistrate court this week facing charges of malicious damage to property.
“The pair were arrested after Transnet control room detected a fuel pressure drop on the pipeline. Authorities responded to the identified spot and apprehended one suspect who attempted to run away,” she said.
Capt Sekgotodi said one of the suspects had fresh burn marks all over his body.
“There was a big fire in the maize field nearby and upon inspection they realised that the flames were from the burning Transnet pipeline.
The Hawks’ Serious Organised Crime Investigation team and local police were summoned to the scene for further investigation,” She said.
An intensive search for the second suspect was conducted in the area.
The man who was also badly burnt was apprehended after he was found hiding under a bridge.
Emergency services were then called to the scene and they transported Nyamuruma and Magorosi to the Witbank General hospital.
“All the exhibits which included a white Mazda pick-up truck, generator and pieces of charred clothes were confiscated for further investigation.
The suspects are expected to appear before the Phola Magistrate’s Court this week,” said Capt Sekgotodi.
The incident comes a few months after two Zimbabwean men were arrested after stealing 40 000 of diesel from a Transnet station in State.
Theft of fuel in South Africa is common and times the fuel is smuggled into Zimbabwe in tankers.
In the last two months border authorities at Beitbridge intercepted fuel tankers smuggling thousands of petrol and diesel destined for Bulawayo and Harare