Harare(New Ziana)-Cabinet on Tuesday approved proposed amendments to the Electricity Act, which are aimed at introducing stiffer penalties for those found guilty of vandalising electricity infrastructure, a Minister has said.
Addressing a post Cabinet briefing, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the new regulations were expected to go a long way in curbing vandalism of electricity infrastructure.
“Cabinet considered and approved the principles for the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act (Chapter 13:19) to introduce stiffer penalties for crimes related to electricity theft, the destruction of and tampering with electricity infrastructure.
“The amendments will cover the reviewing of current penalty for identified offences in order to make the penalties more deterrent, classifying such offences under the Criminal Law Codification Act, which governs serious crimes like murder and rape and compelling courts to impose mandatory sentences as opposed to fines.
“For instance, tampering without lawful excuse with any apparatus for generating , transmitting, distributing or supplying electricity with the result that any supply of electricity is cut off or interrupted, which used to attract not less than 10 years, will under the amended law attract not less than 30 years imprisonment,” she said.
The Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company (Zetdc) has been experiencing increased incidents of vandalism including the theft of transformer oil and copper conductors.
The thefts have resulted in the power utility incurring huge expenses in replacing the vandalised property, while the impact on power supply has been astronomic.
To date more than 927 transformers have either been vandalised or stolen in the northern region, 625 in the western region, 525 in Harare region and 94 in the eastern region.
In 2018 alone, the Zetdc lost US$5 million due to vandalism of infrastructure, primarily theft of copper cables. In the same year, the company said more than 30 000 households lost power supplies countrywide after about 4 000 transformers were stolen.
Mutsvangwa said the government would from time to time review such penalties to make them more deterrent to would be offenders.
“Over and above the stiffer penalties, Government will also ensure that adequate surveillance machinery is put in place to apprehend offenders, including through installation of electronic gadgets to detect crimes,” she said.