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Technician in court for theft of batteries

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The accused allegedly stole equipment worth nearly R50 000 and sold it for a mere R1 000.

File picture: Independent Media

A technician working for a major telecommunications company, who is accused of stealing equipment worth nearly R50 000, was granted bail in the Kimberley Magistrate’s Court yesterday.

He allegedly sold the stolen property for a mere R1 000.

Pretoria resident, Katlego Masanabo, was granted bail of R2 000 yesterday, on condition that he attends trial, does not interfere with witnesses or the investigation and refrains from committing any further offences.

The 30-year-old suspect was arrested last month after he was found in possession of four batteries, valued at around R6 000 each, used to power MTN cellular towers.

He was subsequently found with an additional four batteries that had been stolen in a housebreaking and sold to a scrapyard in Galeshewe, apparently for R868.

In an affidavit read by his defence attorney yesterday, Masanabo said that he was working as a technician in Bloemfontein for a company that services and maintains the infrastructure and towers for MTN in the region.

In the course of his work, he traveled extensively throughout central South Africa, including Kimberley when required.

While the accused yesterday, expressed his intention to plead not guilty to the charges against him, investigating officer, Warrant Officer Henk van der Merwe, of the Kimberley Detective Unit, suggested that bail be set at R3 000 in order to ensure the suspect’s presence at his trial.

The IO explained that Masanabo was arrested on November 16 this year, when he was found driving a company bakkie on the old Boshof Road, carrying four batteries on the back.

“We stopped the vehicle, identified ourselves and informed him why we were looking for him,” Van der Merwe told the court. “We found four big batteries from cellphone towers. Staff members of MTN were with us at the time and identified the items belonging to the company. They said the batteries were not allowed to be in the applicant’s possession.

“These batteries cost about R6 000 each so the total value of these four items is around R24 000.”

Masanabo was arrested for a second time last Wednesday on a charge of housebreaking relating to an offence allegedly committed late in October.

“Regarding the second arrest, the suspect allegedly went to a premises where he took four more batteries belonging to MTN,” Van der Merwe. “He took these, but was not aware that there was a tracking device on them.

“He then sold the four batteries to a scrapyard in Galeshewe for R868. These are also valued at R6 000 each.”

While the IO was not entirely opposed to bail being granted to the accused, he urged for caution.

“He was probably told not to commit any criminal offences previously, when he was released from custody on his own accord, but he still did,” said Van der Merwe. “There was no previous bail application and there were no warrants outstanding at the time of his arrest.

“There is a pending matter in Boshof where he is wanted, but he must still be charged in that regard.”

The case was postponed to March for further investigation.