Four nabbed after being caught with 24 Econet base station batteries

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By Mashonaland East Correspondent

Four suspected thieves were Monday arrested after they were caught with 24 Econet base station batteries worth thousands of US dollars in Sadza, Chikomba on Monday.

Police confirmed the arrests and said the four were expected to appear in court soon.

According to the police, the men were observed by a security guard breaking into an Econet tower booster at Dune Village in Sadza.

The guard quickly informed the police leading to the arrest of the suspects.

“The criminals stole 24 batteries which were all recovered upon arrest. Further investigations revealed a total of seven households where the suspects had also stolen from through unlawful entry and a robbery case which is pending before the courts,” the police said.

Each base station battery is reported to cost US$6 500.

This week’s arrests come when Econet has turned to a US-based storable energy company, Tesla for the supply of solar-powered batteries that can keep its base stations running and help Zimbabweans pay their bills through their mobile phones due to serious shortages of hard cash.

“Telecommunications have become the lifeblood of the economy. If the telecom network is down in Zimbabwe, you can’t do any transactions,” said Norman Moyo, the chief executive of Distributed Power Africa, which installs batteries for Econet.

Econet has about 1 300 base stations and two other mobile phone companies operate from these base stations.

Meanwhile, police have also confirmed the deaths of two men last Thursday and Monday this week who were electrocuted after attempting to steal live ZESA cables in Chakari and Marondera.

“A man (33) was electrocuted in Chikari after attempting to cut a live ZESA cable. His body was found near a ZESA transformer with serious burns on his body. An electric cable was also found next to the body.

“Yet another man’s body was discovered with burns on (Monday) in Marondera. It is suspected that he was electrocuted after he tried to cut a live ZESA cable. About 450m of copper cables was recovered at the scene,” the police said.

The Ministry of Energy and Power Development has since issued a warning to members of the public to stop vandalising power lines.

“Electricity is dangerous. Even during load shedding all lines are treated as live. Vandalism of electrical infrastructure must stop. Let’s take collective responsibility and safeguard our transformers and power lines as communities,” the ministry warned.