Ward 6 residents in the neighbourhoods of Newton West, Westsomerton, Montrose, Southwold, Barham Green, Newton West and Bellevue in Bulawayo are going for weeks without electricity due to Zesa copper cables theft. At least two cases of copper theft are reported every month in the ward.These cables are being stolen in the early hours of the morning .What puzzles the community is how the thieves know which cable to cut while the power is still on.
Bellevue and Newton west are the most hit areas in the ward over the past months. The residents are being requested to buy aluminum cables for the replacement of copper cables. The replacement of the cables has been transferred to the residents as the power company says it is financially incapacitated to replace the stolen ones.A block of 16 houses was asked to fork out $72 usd each to replace the cables,”we had to pay usd$72 each amoungst 16 houses and that amounted to usd$1152,00 . Most of us don’t have that money but we were left with on option but to pay to get electricity restored.With these hard economic times who can afford such an amount, luckily we had a well wisher who paid that amount in full and we had to reimburse him in order of us to get connected and as I speak some up to today are failing to payback our well wisher”said one the residents who chose to remain anonymous.
“We stayed for 2 months without electricity due to theft of Zesa cables and we were asked to buy aluminum cables which we paid Zesa an amount of ZWL$4500 each amoungst three households. It took us time to pay for the cables because we could not raise the money . Zesa should be able to provide us with the cables, they keep increasing tariffs which are beyond our reach “said Mr Moyo.
“These thieves steal the cables when everyone is asleep in the early hours of the morning,we wonder how they manage to go up the poles and cut the cables, Zesa has no cables and they have no choice but to let us buy the cables cause they(zesa) do not have the aluminum cables,we need to come up with a lasting solution for our predicament because we will always be victims of this vandalism,we have neighborhood watch patrol teams but are not bearing fruits”,said on concerned resident from Barham Green
“The main cause is that we don’t not have the police patrolling our neighborhood at night and they are always slow in attending to a crime scene once they are alerted of burglary and Zesa cable vandalism,the police should be in the forefront assisting the neighborhood watch teams as they do patrols at night”we should question these people whom we see roaming around our community because these people will be surveying our homes and later they ponce on us.” Said Mrs Nkiwane
The fact of the matter is that Zesa is not forcing the residents to buy the aluminum cables,but they give no alternative to our situation. We understand when Zesa says they do not have aluminum cables, the waiting period to have Zesa supplying with aluminium cables takes ages. But I think they should completely change all the cables in our ward to end all this mayhem”added Mrs Nkiwane
Recent development is that the ZRP apprended two culprits who are part of the gang that has been terrorizing the community,these people are said to be coming from Mganwini and their accomplices are still at large,and the matter is still under investigation.But with those two behind bars vandalism continues in the ward with residents of Montrose and Southwold being the latest victims of copper cable theft.
Some residents blame the power utility company’s employees of the occurrences that are happening in the ward,claiming that it takes people who have the knowledge of how the system works in order to steal the cables without being electrocuted.This publication spoke to the residents of ward six to air their views pertaining this issue that hand.
“Only Zesa employees know how the system works and I don’t think a person in his right senses would just wake up thinking of stealing copper cables without knowing which cables to cut without being electrocuted and where to sell”said Mr Ndlovu.
Zesa is always hiking it’s tariffs and part of that money should be put into infrastructure development. We have to come up with ways to properly deal with this situation with the help from Zesa, the police and the neighborhood watch teams. If the police come out in full force it may help to stop these crimes.The government should put a stiffer penalty for these law breakers” said Mr Ruvairo
“Neighborhood watch teams are there in every some parts of Ward 6 and most cases each household is asked to pay a subscription of usd$5 a month for patrol,button sticks,vests,whistles and an incentive for the patrol teams,the challenge is that resident participation is on 50 percent . Until we have full participation then we can be able to stop all the crimes that happen at night”said Mr Zulu the chairperson of the ward development committee