Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
A Harare man was yesterday sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing 92 metres of TelOne copper drop cables worth $105.
Robert Nyirongo (41) pleaded guilty to contravening the Telecommunications Act that criminalises receiving or taking possession of any telecommunication infrastructure material.
Crimes of this nature attract a mandatory sentence of not less than 10 years unless there are special circumstances, but in the case of Nyirongo, the court found none.
Magistrate Ms Josephine Sande said crimes of this nature were on the increase hence the need to hand down a mandatory sentence if special circumstances are not provided. In passing sentence, Ms Sande said Nyirongo committed a serious offence which called for a stiffer penalty.
“In this case, there are no special circumstances to warrant the court to disregard the mandatory sentence,” she said.
“Offences of this nature are on the rise and the convicted person’s conduct affect the smooth flow of telephones hence there is need for a deterrent sentence,” she said.
In aggravation, prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri said: “The accused person was arrested at around 3am and the time shows his intention to commit the offence was premeditated.
“The offence is on the increase and it is now a cause for concern. “It is more like an economic sabotage therefore there is need for the courts to stamp its authority.
“It is the State’s prayer that the convicted person be jailed for 10 years.”
Ms Sande concurred with the State and passed the minimum mandatory term.
Last week Ms Sande also slapped two men George Muganda (42) and Tapiwa Juru (33) with a combined 20-year prison term for the same offence.
The pair appeared on separate records.
Juru pleaded guilty to stealing 4,3 metre long cable valued at $55 while Muganda was found with 16kg of TelOne copper cables valued at $200. Nyirongo was caught red-handed in Warren-Park 1 in Harare by security guards who were on duty while stealing the cables.
Last year TelOne indicated that it lost over $100 000 worth of telecommunications equipment mainly copper cables due to theft and vandalism.