No option of fine for Zesa vandals
UNSCRUPULOUS people who unlawfully divert or abstract electricity or those that transport material used for generation or supply of electricity will no longer be given an option to pay a fine should they be convicted in a court of law, but face a mandatory jail term.
This comes as last month ZESA Holdings revealed that it has been losing over US$9 million annually due to vandalism and theft of its infrastructure.
To protect the power utility, those arrested and convicted will now be liable to a jail term of not less than 10 years if no special circumstances are found as Government steps up efforts to curb electricity vandalism.
This is contained in the Electricity Amendment Bill that was gazetted last Friday and will soon be tabled in Parliament for debate.
“This clause (Clause 2) provides for the introduction of stiffer penalties for the abstraction or diversion of any electric current, or the use of such electric current, knowing it to have been unlawfully abstracted or diverted,” reads the preamble of the Bill.
“Currently the Act provides for an option to pay a fine where one is convicted for such a crime, and the Bill proposes to remove the option to pay a fine generally, unless there are special circumstances peculiar to the case that may warrant awarding the option to pay a fine.”
The Electricity Act, as it is, provides for a fine not exceeding Level 14 or imprisonment not exceeding five years for transportation of material used in connection with generation, transmission, distribution or supply of electricity.
Clause Two of the Bill will replace this provision with imprisonment of not less than 10 years upon conviction.
There were other related offences that attracted imprisonment of not less than one year that will be replaced with 10-year imprisonment.
Clause Three of the Bill allows the court to impose a fine of up to Level 14 or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years should there be special circumstances peculiar to the case, which circumstances must be recorded by the court.
“A court sentencing a person under subsection (2) shall not order that the operation of the whole or any part of the sentence be suspended,” reads Clause Three.
Last month, ZESA Holdings announced that it had adopted drone technology that is expected to go a long way in curbing illegal practices.
Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution (ZETDC), the distribution arm of State power utility ZESA, acting managing director Engineer Howard Choga, said this last month during the unveiling of its remotely piloted aircraft operator certification (ROC) from the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ).
The certification entails that Zesa, using the drone technology, can now do environmental impact assessments in the delivery of power projects, technical loss identification, disaster management, asset monitoring and management, network maintenance, situational awareness and short range surveillance, among others.
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