ESCOM PROA temporary labourer for the Electricity Supply Corporation (Escom) has been sentenced to 48 months’ imprisonment with hard labour for stealing copper cables in Mzuzu, police records indicate.
James Phiri appeared before Mzuzu Magistrate Court on March 31 2021 to answer charges of theft of the cables at Mzuzu Power Substation on March 30 2021. The 26-year-old Phiri appeared in court alongside his accomplice, Nedson Chitseko, to answer the charges of theft and receiving stolen goods respectively.
It all started when well-wishers had tipped ESCOM security personnel and the police that some people were seen peeling copper cables in a maize garden behind Katoto Secondary School on March 29 2021. When the team arrived on the scene, they recovered 10 metres of 185mm copper cables and the suspects had, then, fled.
The cables, valued at K598,000, were taken to the station where the following day, four of the cables went missing.
ESCOM security personnel checked CCTV footage which proved that Phiri stole the materials. Phiri, from Chiponde Village, Traditional Authority (T/A) Mkupha, Likoma District, denied the charge of theft in court only to admit the offence after CCTV footage evidence was played.
He admitted to have sold the cables to Chitseko from Mbete Village, T/A Chikowi in Zomba. The cables are yet to be recovered. Chitseko is said to have handed the cables over to another suspect who knew the potential buyer. Chitseko is yet to be sentenced. Mzuzu Police Station spokesperson, Paul Tembo, confirmed the development.
"Official information is that the case was reported and all stolen property recovered and taken by Escom personnel.
Currently investigations are underway to arrest the suspects who are currently at large," Tembo said. Theft of the cables has been on the rise across the country, prompting Energy Minister, Newton Kambala, to, recently, condemn the malpractice, saying it was undermining ESCOM’s efforts of supplying electricity.
ESCOM temporary employee jailed for copper cables.