The inaugural e-cabinet has approved the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act to introduce stiffer penalties for crimes related to electricity theft, destruction and tampering with electricity Infrastructure.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Service Minister Monica Mutsvangwa revealed this during a post cabinet press briefing.
“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, which was presented by the Minister of Energy and Power Development,” said Minister Mutsvangwa
She said the thefts have left the power utility incurring huge expenses as a result of vandalism to transformers.
“Zesa has been experiencing increased incidents of vandalism including the theft of transformer oil and copper cable conductors. The thefts have resulted in Zesa incurring huge expenses in replacing the vandalized property, while the impact on business has been astronomic, to date, more than 927 transformers have either been vandalized or stolen in the Northern Region, 625 in the Western Region, 525 in Harare Region and 94 in the Eastern Region”
“The salient features of the amendments will encompass reviewing the current penalty regime for identified offences in order to make the penalties more deterrent classifying such offences under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23], which governs heinous crimes, including rape and murder compelling courts to impose mandatory sentences, as opposed to the option of fines, which may not be deterrent enough”
Under the amended law electricity theft or vandalism will attract not less than 30 years of imprisonment. The current sentence attracts not less than 10 years.
Minister Mutsvangwa said Government will from time to time review such penalties to make them more deterrent to would-be offenders.
Cases of electricity theft have been on the increase in recent time a nineteen year old man was arrested for charging lap tops directly from Zesa substation through illegal connections.