Citizen reporter
2 minute read
21 Feb 2021
3:26 pm

1,250-year sentence handed to cable thieves in Western Cape

Citizen reporter

They were arrested for theft of Eskom and Telkom infrastructure valued at over R1.8 million. 

Picture: iStock

National Commissioner of the South African Police Service, General Khehla Sitole has welcomed the tough sentence.

In total there were seven suspects, two passed away during the course of the trial, they all pleaded not guilty. They were arrested for theft of Eskom and Telkom infrastructure valued at over R1.8 million.

Kwame Harrison (deceased), Thomas Osei, Sipho Bila, Nhlanganiso Habe (deceased), Francisco Mandinde, David September and Anthony Chauke were found guilty on:
  • Two counts of racketeering
  • 18 counts of fraud
  • 15 counts of theft
  • six alternative counts of tampering with, removing or destroying essential infrastructure
  • 15 counts of money laundering.

Colonel Brenda Muridili said there was an increase in the Namaqualand area of theft of Telkom copper wires in 2015.

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During the investigation, an integrated multidisciplinary team comprising analysts from Gauteng, border security intelligence members, the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) in Cape Town, and Telkom investigators were tasked to nab the suspects.

“The team’s breakthrough came after vigilant members on patrol stopped and searched a suspicious vehicle carrying copper cables in Kammieskroon. The suspects fled the scene on foot and left their loot and some of their personal belongings, which were valuable evidence.

“In 2016, investigations led to De Doorns, Vredenburg and Langebaan where the police discovered that the suspects were originally from Mfuleni and had also been stealing Eskom copper wires. The trial was moved from the Northern Cape to Cape Town, where all the accused were subsequently found guilty on 18 August 2020.”
Sentencing was handed down on 12 February:
  • Osei was sentenced to an effective 650 years in prison
  • Bila and Mandinde, each received 225 year’s imprisonment
  • September was given 75 years in prison
  •  Chauke was sentenced to 75 years imprisonment.

“This conviction and lengthy sentence given to these convicted cable thieves is indicative of law enforcement’s commitment to root out the destruction of essential property by charging perpetrators under the Criminal Matters Amendment Act with the ultimate imprisonment that can be up to 30 years or a fine of up to R100 million,” Muridili concluded.

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