Police Recover $34K Stolen Copper Cables

Major Bust in Illegal Copper Trade Shocks Zimbabwean City

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe
Bulawayo copper theft

In a significant crackdown on illegal copper trading in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, the local law enforcement, spearheaded by the Bulawayo Provincial Police, apprehended 36-year-old Themba Ndebele from Emganwini after discovering he was in possession of stolen copper cables valued at a staggering US$34,000. The arrest followed a meticulous investigation by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) which had been tipped off about Ndebele’s dubious dealings in the copper trade.

Inspector Abednico Ncube, speaking on behalf of the Bulawayo provincial police, detailed the operation that led to the recovery of a hefty 1.5 tonnes of copper cables, predominantly belonging to the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (ZETDC). The seized cables, essential for the distribution of electricity across the region, included transformer coils and overhead distribution cables, crucial components in the nation’s power infrastructure.

The breakthrough came in January 2024 when Ndebele reportedly acquired 34 sacks of copper cables, each weighing 50kg, containing valuable transformer coils and overhead distribution cables. Acting on a tip, CID detectives conducted a raid on Ndebele’s premises, uncovering the substantial stash of copper.

Upon inspection by ZETDC engineer Murambatsvina Murimirwa, a significant portion of the recovered copper was confirmed to belong to ZETDC. However, some cables remained unclaimed by other stakeholders. Ndebele, during interrogation, claimed to have purchased the copper from various individuals for resale through his business, Riczone Private Limited, situated in the Kelvin West Industrial Site.

Ndebele presented a copper trading license, issued in Harare on February 19, which was valid until February 18, 2025. Nonetheless, investigations revealed a critical oversight in Ndebele’s operation; his license was restricted to Harare, rendering his activities in Bulawayo illegal under the current regulations.

The incident has shed light on the rampant issue of copper theft in Bulawayo, posing significant threats to the local community and infrastructure. Inspector Ncube took the opportunity to commend the collaborative efforts of the public and stakeholders in combating copper theft. He also called for increased community involvement in safeguarding against such crimes, emphasizing the collective responsibility to protect essential services and infrastructure from the repercussions of illegal copper trading.

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