A former police officer who was caught stealing Zesa cables in Beitbridge was on Friday slapped with the mandatory 10-year jail term.
Michael Mapfumo (33), who during his days in the police was stationed at Tuli Police Station, targeted electricity cables in rural areas during load shedding.
He was jointly charged with Nobert Nondo, who has been acquitted.
He denied the charges when the trial opened before Beitbridge regional magistrate Mr Innocent Bepura, but was convicted on the strength of the State’s evidence.
Prosecuting, Mr Claudius Karinga proved that on June 8 this year the police received information from members of the community that Mapfumo was seen with copper cables similar to those stolen from Malala Primary School the previous night.
He was intercepted by villagers, but he managed to flee, leaving behind the cables and a bicycle, which police recovered.
The next day, police detectives made follow-ups at Lutumba Business Centre, where they identified the owner of the bicycle as Nondo.
During questioning, Nondo implicated Mapfumo, who was also arrested.
Nondo was also positively identified by those villagers who had tried to arrest him the previous day at the crime scene.
Mr Karinga said the man had stolen three metres of armoured cable worth US$220 and that the police had recovered cables worth US$600.
The police have of late been cracking hard on syndicates that are vandalising and stealing solar panels and related accessories across the district.
Since the beginning of 2019, a syndicate of thieves targeting solar panels and related accessories has hit Swereki, Lilombe, Mapili, and Chamnangana clinics.
The main targets are rural health centres, schools, irrigation projects, and houses in the town area which are yet to be connected to the ZESA grid.
Theft of solar panels at most clinics is affecting service delivery with health officials at these clinics being forced to take medication and vaccines to the main referral hospital more than 100km away since they need refrigeration.
There are 17 rural health centres servicing over 170 000 people in the district’s rural component and most of them are now without energy due to the thefts.
In addition, operations at irrigation schemes using electricity for pumping had been affected