Duo jailed six years for stealing Econet property

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Staff Reporter

TWO Lithabaneng men have each been jailed for six years for stealing Econet Telecom Lesotho’s overhead copper cables.

Maruping Maruping and Motlatsi Mpeoa were both charged with contravening section 44 of the Communications Act, 2012. This after they cut and stole Econet’s overhead cables in Lithabaneng, Maseru, earlier this month.

They were arrested on 6 May 2022 and appeared at the Maseru Magistrates’ Court.

On 9 May, Magistrate Teboho Thoso found them guilty. He sentenced them to six years each or M10 000 fine.  They both failed to raise the funds and were immediately jailed.

In an interview, Econet public relations manager, Puleng Masoabi, bemoaned the theft and vandalism of telecommunications equipment.

She said such crimes had become rampant to the extent that a case was now being reported every week.

She however, said they were grateful for the support  they were receiving from law enforcement officers in curbing the vandalism.

“Vandalism cost us M3 248 700 in the last financial year,” Ms Masoabi said.

“We are encouraged by the recent convictions because this proves that the police are busy at work and are leaving no stone unturned to ensure that vandals are jailed,” Ms Masoabi said.

Apart from copper cable thefts, Econet also suffers losses from the cutting down of poles and theft of optic fibre equipment. However, copper cable theft remains the most rampant accounting for 50 percent of all crimes against the mobile communications giant.

“The most rampant vandalism is of copper cable infrastructure, which accounts for 50 percent of all crimes. Fibre cables are also stolen along with generator batteries, fuel and solar panels. Poles are also cut down by the criminals,” Ms Masoabi said.

She said from March to May this year alone, the company had lost M474 655 through vandalised equipment.

“The costs exclude labour and traveling costs for repeat jobs while customers also suffer whenever there is disruption of communications services”, she said.

However, with the support of the police and the courts, she said they were confident that the crimes would be significantly reduced.

“We are happy that we are now working with the police. It is also heartening the perpetrators are no longer just being charged with vandalism but also with contravening the Communications Act which carries stiffer penalties,” Ms Masoabi said.

 

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