- The Kroonstad Regional Court has sentenced three convicted copper thieves to a cumulative 224 years’ imprisonment.
- The thieves were convicted on eight counts of copper theft-related charges in the Free State.
- Eskom hopes that the sentence will serve as a deterrent to other copper thieves.
Eskom hopes that the recent jailing of three copper thieves to a cumulative 224 years in prison will send a strong message to those targeting its infrastructure.
In a statement on Wednesday, Eskom said that the Kroonstad Regional Court had sentenced the three accused on 30 July, after they were found guilty on eight counts of copper cable theft-related charges.
“The group was sentenced to a cumulative 244 (sic) years’ imprisonment for crimes committed from March until June 2017,” the statement read.
According to Eskom spokesperson Stefanie Jansen van Rensburg accused number one was sentenced to 144 years imprisonment, but would serve an effective 16 years behind bars, as some of the sentences were ordered to run concurrently.
Accused number two was sentenced to 40 years imprisonment and will serve an effective 16 years in prison, while accused three was sentenced to 40 years, but will only serve 12 because of sentences that were set to run at the same time.
According to Eskom, the accused were involved in eight incidents where copper cable to the value of R115 500 was stolen from Eskom in the Free State.
They were arrested following an investigation by Combined Private Investigations, a private security company contracted by Eskom, for several thefts of Eskom overhead copper conductors in the Kroonstad, Koppies and Allanridge areas.
“At the time of the arrest, the accused were found in possession of copper cable belonging to Eskom,” Eskom said.
The accused were also suspects in other similar cases, including the theft of an overhead copper conductor.
“Upon analysis of the accused cellphone records, it was discovered that they are linked to various incidents of copper theft which had occurred in the Kroonstad, Allanridge, Geneva and Heuningspruit areas.
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“The accused operated as a syndicate and are further linked to various crime scenes by cellphone records of the cell phones found in their possession at the time of arrest.”
Jansen van Rensburg said she hoped that the sentences would deter other potential copper thieves.
“We will continue to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that those involved in essential infrastructure crimes face the consequences of their actions,” she said.