Fixed phone operator, TelOne, has lost over $100 000 worth of telecommunications equipment mainly copper cables since the beginning of the year due to theft and vandalism. TelOne has since launched a $1 000 reward to members of the public that provide information leading to the apprehension and recovery of such equipment, as part of measures to stem the theft and destruction of the key equipment.
Mr Kudakwashe Musundire, TelOne's audit and risk executive, says "vandalism of telecommunications equipment is affecting service delivery".
"We are strongly appealing to the public to alert us of any criminal activities relating to vandalism and copper cable theft."
Vandalism and theft of copper cables have hit TelOne's operations resulting in the firm losing an estimated $1 million annually in revenue.
This comes as the parastatal is battling to rejig its revenue streams in the face of declining voice revenues, so that it gets the bulk of its income from broadband.
Copper cable theft cases are on the rise, with a smuggling syndicate recently being bust at Plumtree Border post after it was intercepted attempting to smuggle into Botswana 1 249kg of copper with a street value $10 000.
On September 1 this year, a Zvishavane magistrate also convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison, three copper cables thieves in the mining town.
The trio, which was arrested at a roadblock in Gweru while aboard public transport, had been found in possession of 122 kg of burnt copper.
The Postal and Communications Act Chapter 12:05 stipulates that the ringleader (s) of a copper stealing syndicate should be sentenced to no less than 10 years, while their accessories should be slapped with five year jail terms.
It further discourages the granting of bail to copper thieves while vehicles used in committing the crime would be forfeited.
Section 4 ( c ) (i) (ii) of the Criminal Law Amendment (Protection of Power, Communications and Water Infrastructure) Act 2011 adds that; "Any person who receives and takes possession of any telecommunication infrastructure material knowing that it has been stolen or realising that there is a real risk or possibility that it has been stolen shall be guilty of an offence and if there are no special circumstances peculiar to the offence as provided for in subsection (10), be liable to imprisonment for a period not less than 10 years".