The Bethulie Regional Court in the Free State province has sentenced three men to 30 years’ imprisonment each for theft and damaging Vodacom’s network infrastructure.
Patrick Chirambandare, 34, Washington Khoza, 32, and Cliff Hove, 28, were sentenced to 15 years each for tampering with a Vodacom tower near Springfontein and an additional 15 years for stealing 12 Narada batteries valued at R78 000 belonging to Vodacom.
On 9 June 2021, police responded to a call at two cellphone towers close to the N1, where the was a signal of a break-in.
“The police, together with private security, found the accused at the scene and recovered batteries, and seized a white Toyota bakkie that was used in the commission of the crime,” reads NPA statement.
“They were arrested, and the case was handed to the Provincial Organised Crime [Unit] for investigations.”
In court, the state prosecutor Leon Ehlers requested the court to impose harsh punishment on the accused because damage to infrastructure seriously impacted South Africans, said the NPA.
“The NPA has classified damage to infrastructure as one of the priority crimes because of the prevalence of these crimes in the province, and they have a serious impact on the lives of South Africans, and for that, we call upon the court to impose harsh punishment on the accused. They failed to show any remorse because they denied being involved in the crime, and chances of rehabilitation are very slim. The imposition of harsh punishment on the accused will send a message to like-minded people that the courts will not tolerate their criminal actions,” Ehlers said.
30 years direct imprisonment for 3 men who damaged and stole essential infrastructure belonging to Vodacom. Such crimes of economic sabotage will always be dealt with strongly. pic.twitter.com/qL5rs2grkp
— NPASouthAfrica (@NPA_Prosecutes) May 11, 2022