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Copper wire thief electrocuted!

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MANZINI - A man was electrocuted while attempting to steal a copper wire from an electricity pole at Woodmasters early yesterday morning.

Residents of Woodmasters are said to have encountered a blackout at around 3am yesterday and when they called the Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) faults line, the company’s employees who were on call rushed to check what might have caused.

When the employees arrived at scene they discovered a body of man believed to be in his mid thirties lying near the powerline pole.

The man was lying on the ground facing upwards.

He was wearing a black pair of trousers, black boots, a brown leather jacket underneath and a white and pink sweater on top.

On his side, there was a black and grey stripped plastic bag which had a balaclava inside.

A crow bar, a pair of gloves and a knife were also found at the scene. All these items were taken by a team of police officers from the Criminal Investigations Department led by Sergeant Mphatsi Shabangu.

SEC officials including the Corporate Communications Manager, Sifiso Dhlamini, Depot Manager, Paul Masilela, police officers and residents had gathered at the scene where the gruesome incident occurred when a team from the Times arrived.

The surrounding areas had no electricity from the time the incident occurred until 9am, when SEC technicians finally fixed the affected line.

Masilela said it was evident that the cause of death was electrocution as the victim’s hands were burnt.

He said the man who, at the time of compiling this report, had not been identified, was apparently attempting to pull the copper wire from the electricity pole together with a number of people who are believed to have dragged him away from the scene before escaping.

"The people the deceased was with pulled the 30 metre copper cable and before stealing it, he was electrocuted which forced them to escape. Before they ran away, they dragged the dead body from the scene to where he was found. This was evidenced by the trail left on the grass where the body was dragged," Masilela said.

 

Sophie Dlamini, whose home is situated next to the scene, said she heard her dogs barking non-stop at around 2:30am.

She said this was not the first time thieves tried stealing copper wire at the place. "Thieves once stole the copper wire and phone lines were affected. We did not have a line for over a week before it was finally fixed," Dlamini said

Police believe that there may have been more people involved in the attempted theft, however they said that would be determined by their investigations.

Copper theft costs SEC E1m annually

 

MANZINI- The Swaziland Electricity Company (SEC) has revealed that it loses up to E1 million a year through the theft of copper wire.

This was disclosed by SEC Corporate Communications Manager, Sifiso Dhlamini.

"It could go up to E7 million because sometimes people steal copper wire and the transformers are affected especially when there is lightning," Dhlamini said.

He also said they have always warned people against stealing copper wire.

He advised people not to commit such offences as they would definitely be electrocuted.

"Unfortunately more people are still going to get killed for committing such crimes.

 

"We just hope such incidents will deter would-be offenders not to think of stealing copper wire.

"We are also looking at laws to prevent scrap businesses from buying the stolen copper," Dhlamini said.

Dhlamini said SEC would have to purchase a new 30 metre copper cable which is worth E355 per metre because of this incident.

Seven face 14 counts of copper theft

 

MANZINI - Seven copper wire suspects appeared at the Magistrates Court charged with 14 counts of allegedly stealing copper wire and cables valued at E96 000.

The suspects, Boy Vilakati (20) of Khalangilile, Muzi Dlamini (24) of Macetjeni, Mvuselelo Mkhweli (24) of New Heaven, Mfanfikile Xaba (27) of Mfishane, Mvula Hleta (24) of Lavundlamati, Bhekithemba Zwane (33) of Sinceni and Josiah Shongwe (44) of Dvokolwako appeared before Principal Magistrate David Khumalo yesterday charged with 14 offences of theft and robbery.

The suspects allegedly committed the offences in some of the country’s farms mainly the JJ Rudolph Farm, Sidvokodvo, Valley Farm Chicken Shed, Sidvokodvo and Lubhedze Farm among others.

During their appearance in court, they all conducted their own defence and requested the court to admit them to bail.

Their application was not opposed by the Public Prosecutor, Nqobile Mhlanga.

Vilakati was granted bail of E50 000, E40 000 which is to be in a form of surety to be approved by the court, E10 000 is to be paid in cash.

Dlamini was granted bail of E35 000, E28 000 which is to be in a form of surety to be approved by the court, E7 000 to be paid in cash.

Mkhweli and Xaba were each granted bail of E17 000, E12 000 which is to be in a form of surety and E5 000 in cash.

 

Hleta, Zwane and Shongwe were each granted E3 000 bail.

All the suspects were advised to attend all remand hearings when ordered to do so by the court after paying the bail

The suspects are expected back in court on Wednesday pending the completion of the investigations.

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