Man fatally electrocuted in copper wire theft

A suspected copper cable thief was found dead in the early hours of Friday in Burnside after he was electrocuted while attempting to steal copper wiring from overhead electricity lines.

According to Ross Johnson, Assistant Chairperson of the Burnside Neighbourhood Watch Committee, he got a call from a resident and he immediately rushed to the scene and found the deceased hanging from an electricity pole.

“I got a call at around 6:15am from one of the residents and I rushed to the scene. I called the police and fire brigade to alert them about the deceased,” said Johnson.

The fire brigade rescue team and ZESA personnel arrived at the scene around 7am and struggled to bring down the charred remains of the man.

ZESA Senior Client Service Officer, Kwanele Khanye said one of their technicians rushed to the scene after getting calls in the early hours of the morning. 

“One of our technicians found the deceased hanging from the 11KV cable already dead,” said Khanye.

“He was trying to steal an 80-metre copper cable but power came on and he was zapped. The copper cable was recovered.”

He said the deceased was not working alone as such forms of theft one would require a team of 7 or 8 people.

“He was never alone, he probably had a team with him. These people who steal copper cables are mostly from Harare, Zvishavane, Gweru,” said Khanye.

“Last week they stole about 600m from this same area and they were probably trying their luck again when one of them got electrocuted.”

Khanye urged residents to desist from destroying ZESA property and infrastructure as it is harmful when tampered with.

Bulawayo acting police spokesperson Assistant Inspector Nomalanga Msebele said the deceased took advantage of the load shedding and attempted to steal copper cables.

“The deceased is unknown but he is suspected to have been part of a gang who managed to flee from the scene,” said Assistant Insp. Msebele.

“The deceased took advantage of the load shedding and went up the ZESA pole, while he was attempting to cut the cables power was restored leading to the deceased being electrocuted.”

She said the deceased`s remains were taken to United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) mortuary.

Assistant Insp. Msebele cautioned members of the public from tampering with ZESA infrastructure.

“Bulawayo has been hit hard by theft of property cables and has crippled businesses in the city,” she said.

“The now deceased had no identification particulars so we are calling on the public who might have a missing relative to come and identify the body.”

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