FOUR men who stole 2 250 metres of copper cables worth over US$22 500 at a farm in Beatrice were last week jailed 10 years each. Tendai Gwete (21) of Waterfalls, Washington Masawi (27) of Hopley, Edmore Mutsvangwa (38) of Glen View and Allen Matiza Musarurwa (32) of Strathaven in Harare had denied charges of contravening sections of the Electricity Act.
The Act criminalises vandalism of Zesa equipment for generating, transmitting or supplying electricity.
Chitungwiza magistrate Mr Kudakwashe Jarabini convicted the four after the prosecution proved a strong case against the quartet.
Mr Jarabini sentenced them to 15 years in prison each but then conditionally suspended five years on condition of good behaviour.
In sentencing them, Mr Jarabini noted that the four were facing a serious offence, which called for a mandatory 10-year jail term.
He said it was the court's duty to pass deterrent sentences to warn those would be offenders.
Prosecutor Mr Edmond Ndambakuwa proved that on October 25, the four connived to steal Zesa overhead cables at Plum Farm, in Beatrice.
They went to the farm's paddock armed with a bolt cutter where they cut and rolled 2 250 cables into bundles.
The theft plunged residents in Beatrice and Featherstone into darkness, prompting Zesa officials to investigate the fault through their control centre.
The centre revealed that Beatrice was not under load-shedding.
A report of suspected theft was made at Beatrice police post.
Zesa officials and the police teamed up and went to the site where the fault emanated and discovered the offence.
When the gang saw the police approaching, it fled into the bush only to resurface later on the Harare-Masvingo highway. The gang members were arrested and later led police to where they had hidden the cables.