A SUSPECTED copper cable thief died on Monday night while another was severely burnt after they were electrocuted by a 66 000-volt power line in Umguza district.
Elmon Ndlovu died on the spot while his accomplice Norman Moyo (22) sustained severe burns all over the body after trying to steal Zesa cables in Nkenyane along the Bulawayo-Nkayi Road. Moyo was taken to Mpilo Central Hospital yesterday afternoon.
A passerby, Mr Romeo Mlambo, who was going to a nearby river found Ndlovu and Moyo, who had been on the police wanted list for stealing copper cables. Ndlovu’s death and Moyo’s injury could potentially bring to an end criminal activities that had plunged many areas into darkness in the district.
Mr Mlambo went to investigate after hearing Moyo howling and reported to the police.
“It was around 9AM and I was going to Koce River when I heard cries. I walked towards the direction where the cries were coming from, only to find the two lying there helplessly. Moyo was crying for help and seemed to be in pain,” he said.
“It was horrible, their faces were hard to recognise with the burns. This is very bad because people do not seem to learn from the past. When people die committing a crime, it should be a lesson to many but these thieves do not learn from such events.”
Theft of copper cables has been on the rise in recent years, with Government saying it has led to a delay in implementation of projects as a lot of money is lost replacing them.
When a Chronicle news crew arrived at the scene at around 12 noon yesterday Zesa officials and emergency departments’ personnel were already there, conducting investigations.
Moyo’s clothes were scorched, with his shoes burnt beyond recognition.
Various tools, including a pliers and catapults were found in one of their bags while a rope, which they allegedly used to pull down the cables was hanging from a tree.
Ndlovu and Moyo were part of a syndicate on the police’s wanted list.
When Givemore Machedu was arrested for the theft of 800 metres of copper cables in Matobo district last month, he implicated the two.
Machedu was jailed last month for 15 years by a Gwanda magistrate after he was found in possession of copper cables valued at $1 587, which he and his accomplices had stolen.
Bulawayo Police provincial spokesperson Inspector Precious Simango confirmed that Ndlovu and Moyo had been on the wanted list for stealing copper cables.
“I can confirm that we are investigating a case of theft of copper cables where two accused persons cut copper cables. One died on the spot while the other had severe injuries. The injured man told the police that they were electrocuted on Monday night at around 9PM. The cable they cut was about 500 metres and we are yet to estimate its value,” she said.
Insp Simango said the duo had been on a copper cables thieving spree.
“Last month they stole 1,5km cables valued at $7 000 and 600 metres worth $3 000 from Glenkara. We urge members of the public to desist from criminal activities because the law always catches up with them,” she said.
Some time last year, an unidentified man was found dead hanging on an electric pole in Queens Park East suburb after being electrocuted by a 11 000-volt power line.
Last month, another duo was sentenced to 20 years in jail for stealing Zesa cables worth $1 925 from a power line in Figtree.
In February three Bulawayo men were each sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing Zesa copper cables in Figtree.