COMMENT: Communities, Zesa and the police must work closely together to fight cable thieves

The Chronicle

The decision by residents of the Sunninghill suburb of Bulawayo to thwart attempts by thieves to steal Zesa power cables is not only to be commended, but testifies that a combined effort between authorities and members of the public can help in the fight against The crime.

Residents awoke at 4am on Thursday to confront copper wire thieves as they cut power cables before giving chase to criminals who were forced to abandon their loot.

The area had been without electricity for days and the cable thieves tried to take advantage of the situation by stealing the cables.

The theft of copper cables meant some areas went without power for months, with areas like Sunninghill, Burnside and Mahatshula, Hillside, Parkview and Lochview among the hardest hit.

The weary locals decided enough was enough and confronted the criminals, resulting in the copper cables being recovered.

Although their acts of bravery are welcomed, locals are advised to exercise extreme caution as some of these criminals may be armed and dangerous.

It would be safer to form a local neighborhood watch committee that will work with the police to effectively stop crime.

But the initiative was a starting point and a strong signal to cable thieves that locals will not tolerate crime under their watch.

Last month, a man from the suburb of Emganwini was arrested by members of a neighborhood watch committee in Nketa after he was found in possession of stolen copper telephone cables stuffed into a 50kg bag.

Confirming the arrest, Bulawayo Provincial Police spokesman Inspector Abednico Ncube praised the neighborhood patrol team as he urged residents to join forces with the police in countermeasures against crime.

“It’s the Nketa neighborhood watch team, under the Tshabalala police station and they were patrolling their areas, and as police officers, we encouraged people to organize like that.

“They were doing this to fight crime and copper cable theft and it worked. So in 2022, as the police, we are encouraging the community to join the police, stop and search anyone at night, to combat copper cable theft,” said Inspector Ncube.

It is not just the people of Sunninghill who should form neighborhood watch committees but all the suburbs so that the theft of electric cables is dealt with permanently.

Zesa must also step in by responding quickly to power cuts caused by outages to avoid the growing perception that some of its employees could be the source of cable theft.

Sunninghill Crime Consultative Committee Vice-Chairman Mr Clive Ncube said it appears those with knowledge of electricity were behind the thefts.

“Zesa officials are not open about these issues and it all looked like a deliberate power outage for copper cable harvesting and the only people who have the capacity to take such a position are those in charge of the power supply,” Mr. Ncube said. noted.

“It’s luck that we were vigilant, otherwise we would have lost these salvaged cables and the inhabitants would have had to buy replacement cables.

There is something fishy about this and Zesa is unavailable and unreliable at the moment. I’m not afraid to be quoted saying this, Zesa lets us down.

Residents expressed concern that cable thieves would return at any time for the remaining cables, plunging them into darkness for a longer period.

For the eradication of copper cable theft, the community, Zesa and the police should work closely together, and the power utility should strive to eliminate the negative perceptions of residents in order to successfully fight against the thieves. of cables.

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