Maputo — The Mozambican police in the central city of Beira on Tuesday seized large amounts of pots and pans and other goods made of aluminium believed to have been stolen from electrical installations.
The publicly owned electricity company, EDM, has repeatedly complained of the vandalisation of electricity pylons and transformer posts in order to steal the metal they contain, such as aluminium. The metal is then melted down, and turned into saucepans, frying pans and other domestic equipment for sale.
Cited in Wednesday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", the Sofala Provincial Police Commander, Alfredo Mussa, said "Operation Magueze" to seize the illicitly produced material was launched at about 09.00 on Tuesday, and resulted in the seizure of hundreds of items made of aluminium.
The police raids included officials from the Sofala Provincial Attorney's Office, the National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), the Provincial Directorate of Mineral Resources and Energy, and EDM.
Mussa said nobody was arrested in the raids, but several suspects are being screened. Journalists, however, noted that a large number of people were being held in the SERNIC cells in Beira.
Mussa promised that the operation will continue, not only in Beira, but in all parts of the province affected by the vandalisation and theft of electrical equipment, including the districts of Dondo, Nhamatanda, Caia and Marromeu.
The EDM Sofala provincial delegate, Helder Gimo, said that the thefts in the province so far this year have caused the company direct losses of around ten million meticais (about 164,000 US dollars).
30 transformer posts had been destroyed, leaving more than 9,000 consumers without electricity. In addition to the metallic components, said Gimo, the thieves had also stolen large amounts of the oil used to lubricate the transformer posts.
He hoped that some of the suspects will be charged, and will answer in court for their actions. Gimo believed this was the only way of stopping the thefts.
Some of those selling the pots and pans complained that the police have not acted against those who supplied them with the stolen aluminium, but Mussa said that the operation is intended to find out exactly how this illicit business operates.
"All the suspects will be notified and questioned", he said. "Those who prove their innocence will be released immediately. Currently nobody has been detained".