Mildred Sithole Midlands Reporter
A SHURUGWI man has been jailed for an effective 16 years for stealing copper cables worth more than $78 000 at Unki Mine after being caught when he left his employee identity card in a car with the stolen cables as he fled from a police roadblock.
Maxwell Ndokanga (39) of Maganga Village under Chief Banga in Shurugwi, who stole the copper cables while working for a company contracted to do some work at Unki Mine, appeared before Gweru regional magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa facing charges of theft and contravening the Electricity Act.
He was convicted on his own plea of guilty to cutting, damaging or interfering with any apparatus or material made for generation or supply of electricity.
In passing sentence, Mrs Msipa said crimes of this nature attracted a mandatory sentence of not less than 10 years unless there were special circumstances, and in this case there were none.
She imposed a 20-year sentence, but suspended two years on normal conditions and another two on condition that Ndokanga paid back $77 779,30 to Unki.
Prosecutor Mr Talent Tadenyika told the court that on January 6 this year at around midnight, Ndokanga and his alleged accomplices, Tendai Sekandini and Obert Muguti, went to steal cables from a dam site at Unki Mine.
“Ndokanga and Sekandini were driven by Muguti in a Nissan Caravan to Unki Mine’s tailings dam’s western gate where they used a hacksaw to cut the chain securing the gate and gained entry,” said Mr Tadenyika.
They switched off the power and used a hacksaw to cut three lengths of 260 metres of trailing cables connecting two barge pumps in the dam used for recycling water from the dam to the plant.
They cut another three lengths each of 99m of flexible cables used for the dam lights before stealing 500m of armoured copper cable still wound on a drum.
“After cutting the cables, they took them for a distance of about 400 metres and loaded them into the vehicle,” said Mr Tadenyika. “They took the loot to Ndokanga’s homestead at Maganga Village where they left it for safekeeping, burning and processing.”
On January 11, Ndokanga and Muguti loaded the loot into a Nissan Caravan vehicle and drove through Shurugwi town where they picked Sekandini and headed to Harare to sell it as scrap.
But at 4am the following morning they were stopped at a police roadblock in Chegutu.
The three lept from the vehicle and ran off, leaving their loot stashed in sacks.
But Ndokanga left his satchel, the employee identity card and his Gtel X5 cellphone, which police used to track him down.
On March 19 at around 12:30am, Ndokanga was arrested at his home and he made indications at the crime scene.
Muguti and Sekandini are still at large.