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Trio jailed 30 years for stealing cellphone tower batteries

Three Zimbabwean men have each been sentenced to an effective 30 years imprisonment by the Springfontein Magistrates Court after they were found guilty of theft and possession of stolen cellphone tower batteries.

Clive Hove, 28, Washington Khoza, 32, and Patrick Chirambadare, 34, each faced two main counts – tampering with or damage of essential infrastructure and theft of 12 MTN batteries as well as tampering with or damage of essential infrastructure and theft of 12 Vodacom batteries.

The accused were sentenced to 15 years imprisonment for each count.
This means they will each serve a total of 30 years in jail as the two charges will not run concurrently.

Police spokesperson Sergeant Mahlomola Kareli said in a statement the matter dates back to June 2021 when Springfontein police were called to an incident near the N1 where two cellphone towers had allegedly been broken into.

“Police, working together with private security companies . . . arrested the three men and recovered 24 batteries with a total value of R135 000 and a white Toyota bakkie used in the commission of the crime,” said Kareli.

He said the case was handed over to the police’s provincial organised crime investigation unit and the three were remanded in custody until the matter was finalised this week.

Free State provincial police commissioner Lieutenant General Baile Motswenyane lauded the contribution made by the two mobile phone companies during the investigation as well as the investigating team for the sterling work.

“This must send a strong message to those who continue to damage essential infrastructure,” said Motswenyane. – Staff Reporter

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