THREE suspects have been arrested in Bulawayo following a high speed chase with the police after they were found in possession of stolen Zesa Holdings equipment and cables worth thousands of dollars.
The three — Blessing Moyo (30), John Sibanda (24) and Braveson Dube (26) were arrested on Tuesday night after they evaded a roadblock along the old Victoria Falls Road near Amakhosi Centre at around 6pm.
They were travelling in Toyota Hilux pickup truck (ACB 6902) which they had loaded the stolen equipment.
On approaching the roadblock, police waved them to stop and they complied.
Police discovered that they were ferrying the equipment and asked them to explain why they were in possession of it and as the police was trying to verify, the trio jumped into their vehicle and sped off leaving the equipment.
Police gave chase and managed to arrest one of them. They made a follow up and arrested the other two suspects.
Investigations revealed that the trio had stolen the equipment at a substation in Bulawayo.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests.
“We are investigating a case in which three men were arrested in Bulawayo after being found in possession of electrical gadgets used in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity,” he said.
They will appear in court once investigations have been completed.
Zesa has been losing millions of dollars through vandalism and thefts of cables and equipment countrywide.
In October last year, President Mnangagwa said Zesa workers had a hand in the rampant vandalism and theft of electricity infrastructure which has cost the country millions of dollars and led to disruption of efficient power transmission across the country.
By that time the power utility needed at least US$40 million to replace over 4 000 transformers that had been vandalised across the country.
It had also lost up to 1 000 kilometres of power lines to cable thieves, according to reports.
Responding to a question on the matter during a plenary session at the 2019 ZimTrade Annual Exporters’ Conference in Bulawayo, President Mnangagwa said Government was disturbed by reports of power transmission disruptions linked to vandalism of electricity infrastructure and the attendant negative impact on ordinary people and business operations.
“We are convinced that those who steal transformers either work for Zesa or are related to Zesa workers because you need some degree of information and technology to steal these transformers, and you must know that there is some danger involved,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Transformers are being stolen countrywide and we need to find a way to stop this stealing.”
President Mnangagwa said Government came up with propositions on how to tackle the issue of transformers at two levels.
Recently, Cabinet expressed concern over vandalism of Zesa infrastructure and put into spotlight the effectiveness of the 10-year mandatory sentence for those convicted, with some stakeholders suggesting a 20-year sentence.