Police in Kwekwe have arrested Romeo Rodgers Shava, who is alleged to be behind a series of copper cable theft cases in the town, following an ambush on one of his runners in Newton.
ZBC News reports that preliminary investigations reveal that an ambush laid by TelOne in the Newton area led to the arrest of 22-year-old Robert Mtetwa, who implicated Shava as his recruiter.
Mtetwa, who was apprehended while in the company of six others, five of whom are on the run, was handed over to Kwekwe CID for investigations.
He confessed to stealing TelOne copper cables along Burma Road in Kwekwe, two days before his arrest. He also showed detectives a place where they burnt the stolen cables.
Mtetwa also indicated that Shava would drop them at designated places to steal TelOne copper cables and they would call him to pick them up after cutting and pulling out the cables.
He pleaded guilty to two counts of stealing TelOne copper cables and was remanded in custody for sentencing.
Meanwhile, Shava was dragged to Gokwe regional magistrate court facing two counts of stealing TelOne copper cables, but he denied the charges.
The magistrate remanded him in custody until the 29th of September. If found guilty of theft of TelOne cables or vandalism of TelOne infrastructure, he will be sentenced to a minimum jail term of 10 years.
Copper cable theft has grown into a pandemic in Zimbabwe, particularly for the electricity, telecommunications, and railway parastatals.
Earlier this year, ZESA claimed that it had lost US$256 million in stolen materials, additional millions in replacement infrastructure and in security mitigation for the same period.
Households are also feeling the heat as they spend days without power and are sometimes asked to pull resources together for the purchase of copper cables.
It is suspected most of the stolen cables are being smuggled to South Africa and they are then shipped further to countries that use the metal in the construction and manufacturing industries.