BUSY Copper gang cop it
Eight people briefly appeared before a magistrate in connection with the theft of a massive amount of copper cables after angry members of the community rounded them up early yesterday morning.
Duduzile Dlamini, 38, Nomasi Nkosi, 40, Agnes Ndowa, 50, Simon Mkhatswa, 57, Howard Ngomane, 18, Penny Mnisi, 18, Themba Khoza and Jabulani Ben Mhlongo, 43, appeared before the Mkhuhlu magistrate's court, near Hazyview.
They were not asked to plead and were granted R1500 bail each. Their next court appearance is on June 3.
Members of the Kildare community - near the Kruger National Park - rounded up the alleged suspects from the villages of Makhushe, Masuku and Kildare at about 2am and handed them over to the Calcutta police.
"We found them with three trucks with stolen copper cables ready to be transported to Gauteng," Kildare community development forum chairman Richard Mathebula said yesterday.
"The community is tired of copper thieves," Mathebula said. "They cause refrigerators to stop, and we can't even fax or call the clinic because the phones are no longer functioning."
He alleged the accused had stolen the cables from Eskom and Telkom lines - resulting in the main water pump malfunctioning for more than three months.
"We have not had water for three months because these thieves cut the electricity to the pump," said Patrick Mhlaba, a community member.
"They don't care that it affects them as well.
"All they care about is their greed."
When Sowetan arrived at the court next to the Calcutta police station, three trucks loaded with cables were in the police station's exhibit yard.
About 24 incidents of copper theft have been reported to the provincial police since April 21, bringing to almost R1million the value of the copper stolen in the province.
"The theft of cables hamper development in the province," Mpumalanga police spokesman Superintendent Abie Khoabane said yesterday.
"We thank the community for handing over the suspects."