A FORMER Zesa employee will spend the next 50 years in jail, while his accomplice was imprisoned 30 years after they were found guilty of stealing electricity gadgets from substations in Mutare causing unscheduled blackouts that plunged the city into darkness.
In premeditated moves to contain public outcry over the blackouts caused by their actions, Farai Evans Mukorera (31) and Johnson Nengomasha (29) would first circulate fake messages on social media advising members of the public to plan ahead before the power interruption.
Following their arrest, Mukorera and Nengomasha confessed that the fake load-shedding messages they circulated to the public gave them more time to ransack the Zesa substations as residents will not call the power utility reporting faults in their area. By so doing, Zesa technicians who normally attend to reported faults will not visit the affected areas at the very time they would be stealing the electricity gadgets.
Mukorera and Nengomasha were last Saturday arraigned before senior magistrate, Mr Lazarus Murendo for contravening Section 60A (30)(a)(b) of the Electricity Act, Chapter 13:19. Mukorera of House Number 131, Area 14, Dangamvura, who was once a Zesa employee, was facing nine counts, while Nengomasha who resides at Number 147 in the same neighbourhood was implicated in five of the counts.
The duo pleaded guilty to the crimes they committed in the Central Business District as well as Dangamvura. Mr Mathew Chimutunga prosecuted. In sentencing them, Mr Murendo, said the two were dangerous to the community, especially Mukorera — who used the experience he acquired from Zesa to steal the gadgets.
On the four counts Mukorera was facing alone, Mr Murendo slapped him with a 10-year jail term on each count. However, the sentence on count one and count two will run concurrently, while the same applies to count three and four. He will therefore serve 20 years.
Concerning the other five counts the duo committed together, Mr Murendo slapped them with the mandatory 10-year sentence on each of the counts. They will serve an effective 30 years each as the sentences on count one and count two will run concurrently, while the same applies to count three and four.
Mr Chimutunga told the court that the crimes were committed from April this year. On April 30, Mukorera went to a substation (Number S16) and used an unknown object to open the locked door. He used unknown means to switch off the power system. He cut off conductors and stole eight 225-amp electric MCB and a 160-amp breaker MCB. He disappeared. Zesa was prejudiced of $964.
On May 30, he went to substation E32 in Palmerstone and stole five 225-amp MCBs and three 60-amp breakers. He hit substation S54 on June 10, which is located in Yeovil medium-density suburb and stole four 225-amp MCBs and vanished. He executed the same modus operandi in several other hits mostly targeting Zesa substation. In five of the cases he teamed up with Nengomasha.
The matter came to light on June 15 when Mukorera was caught red-handed committing a similar offence at a substation located along Second Street in Mutare. Following his arrest, detectives interrogated him and he admitted to have committed separate crimes around the city. He also implicated his accomplice, Nengomasha and the duo led to the recovery of some of the stolen MCBs and breakers which were sold to Barnabus Sithole who operates a vending stall at Sakubva Musika.