Cable theft syndicate leader, Americo Njango, and four others were sentenced in the High Court of South Africa, Circuit Court in Kroonstad yesterday, 22 February.
The five were collectively sentenced to 140 years in jail on charges of theft and contravention of the Organised Crime Act for the first time ever.
The thefts occurred mainly in the Free State and Mpumalanga Provinces affecting not only Eskom equipment, but Transnet, Telkom and local Municipalities as well.
Eskom in a media statement yesterday revealed it loses more than R2 billion a year through electricity theft. “The losses suffered by the country as a whole when including municipalities, is at least double the Eskom figure,” the statement said.
The five men; Njango, Thabo Mandlas, Orlando Mathebula, Themba Masiya and James Malope were arrested on 4th June 2014 following a tip off after it was discovered that 10 span overhead catenaries were stolen in the Bosrand area, Free State.
The accused stood trial from 25 January 2016 and were sentenced today, 22 February 2016 as follows:
Njango – 48 years imprisonment on eight counts of theft and one of organised crime.
Mandlas – 44 years imprisonment on five counts of theft and one of organised crime.
Mathebula – 15 years imprisonment on a count of theft.
Masiya – 16 years imprisonment on a count of theft.
Malope – 17 years imprisonment on a count of theft.
“We are taking steps to combat cable theft in collaboration with the joint industry working group formed by Eskom, Transnet, Telkom, the SAPSce, the National Prosecuting Authority, Business Against Crime, and the South African Chamber of Commerce and Industry,” Eskom added.
(Edited by St Francis Chronicle)