4 undocumented foreign nationals sentenced for stealing Transnet copper cables worth R200 000

The Provincial Commissioner of the South African Police Service in Limpopo, Lieutenant General Thembi Hadebe, has welcomed the sentencing of four individuals by the Thabazimbi Regional Court for tampering with and destroying essential infrastructure. The sentencing took place on Friday, 31 May 2024.

The court heard that on 10 May 2023, at around 23:20, the accused—Chama Nelson (31), Chakaraya Artwell (31), Mathongo Blessing (35), and Marindire Ophius (32)—cut off the Transnet Railway line connected to Dwaalboom.

Must read: 32 illegal foreign nationals arrested and deported in Limpopo

This was discovered by a security guard (33) who noticed suspicious activity while patrolling the Swartkip crossing. Upon investigation, he found that approximately 500 meters of contact lines (solar copper cables) were cut and stolen, amounting to a total cost of R200,000.

Police were called to the scene and a case of tampering with and destroying essential infrastructure was opened.

The suspects were later arrested in the Brits policing area after being found in possession of suspected stolen copper cables. They were linked to the stolen copper cables case in the Northam policing area.

Constable Foster Mabeba of the Essential Infrastructure Task Team Unit was assigned to investigate further. During the court trial, the accused were denied bail and subsequently sentenced as follows by the Thabazimbi Regional Court:

  • Count 1: Tampering with and destroying essential infrastructure – 30 years direct imprisonment.
  • Count 2: Theft of ferrous or non-ferrous metals – 15 years direct imprisonment.
  • Count 3: Failure to use a port of entry – 2 years direct imprisonment.
  • Count 4: Contravention of the Immigration Act: Entering the Republic of South Africa without passports – 2 years direct imprisonment.

“We appreciate the conviction and sentencing as passed by court and all the efforts by the arresting team as well the investigating officer,” said the Provincial Commissioner Lieutenant General Hadebe.

Must read: Stop-and-search leads to multiple arrests of foreign nationals for various offences

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