4 Zimbabwean nationals sentenced to 49 years in jail in South Africa


In a decisive crackdown on infrastructure sabotage, four Zimbabweans were sentenced by the Thabazimbi Regional Court in Limpopo for tampering with and destroying critical railway infrastructure.

On May 10, 2023, at around 11:20 PM, the accused – Nelson Chama (31), Artwell Chakaraya (31), Blessing Matongo (35), and Ophius Marindire (32) – were caught cutting off 500 meters of contact lines (solar copper cables) connected to the Transnet Railway line near Dwaalboom. The total cost of the damage was estimated at R200,000.

A security guard on patrol noticed the suspicious activity and alerted the police, who promptly arrested the suspects in the Brits policing area later that day. The accused were found in possession of the suspected stolen copper cables and were also linked to a separate case of copper cable theft in the Northam policing area.

During the court trial, the accused were denied bail until the Thabazimbi Regional Court sentenced them on May 31st. They received the following sentences:

Count 1: Tampering and destroying essential infrastructure – 30 years direct imprisonment.
Count 2: Theft of ferrous or non-ferrous metals – 15 years direct imprisonment.
Count 3: Failure to use port of entry – 2 years direct imprisonment.
Count 4: Contravention of Immigration Act: Entering the Republic of South Africa without passports – 2 years direct imprisonment.

The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, welcomed the harsh sentences, stating that they reflect the gravity of the crimes and the importance of safeguarding the country’s critical infrastructure.

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