Home crime, law and justice Copper theft syndicate members who targeted Telkom, Eskom and Transnet jailed

Copper theft syndicate members who targeted Telkom, Eskom and Transnet jailed

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Members of a copper theft syndicate that had been operating across the country have been sentenced in the George Regional Court.

Members of the copper theft syndicate that operated across the country. Picture: Hawks

MEMBERS of a copper theft syndicate that had been operating across the country have been sentenced in the George Regional Court.

The five men were handed sentences ranging from eight years to 17 years imprisonment.

According to the Western Cape spokesperson for the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks), Zinzi Hani, the group was involved in the theft of copper cables from 2012 to 2017.

The crimes were committed in Prince Albert, Kenhardt, Port Nolloth, Brakpan, Bedfordview, Primrose, and Williston.

Some of the copper cables seized. Picture: Hawks

The group – Malome Alfred Matsetela, 42, the owner of a scrap metal business, Amos Ngubeni, 38, Samuel Ngwenya, 40, Linda James Malope, 40, and Wilson Khoza, 39 – was convicted of one count of managing the operation of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity; one count of participating in the activities of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity and 12 counts of theft of non-ferrous metals which form part of essential infrastructure.

“This comes after their arrest in 2017 by the Serious Organised Crime Investigation team based in George. They were subsequently brought before the Beaufort West Magistrate’s Court,” said Hani.

The syndicate used rented vehicles to steal overhead copper from Telkom, Eskom, and Transnet.

“It is reported that the scrap metal owner who was operating from Malvern Scrap Metal colluded with the four other accused by cutting and stealing copper cables all over the country and thereafter transported the stolen copper cables to Malvern Scrap Metals where they were sold.

“The owner would then pay the other four accused with cash or cheques from his company account,” Hani said.

Malome Alfred Matsetela. Picture: Hawks

Matsetela was sentenced to 17 years’ imprisonment for managing the operation or activities of an enterprise, Malvern Scrap Metal, through racketeering activity. For participating in an enterprise through racketeering activity, he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

On seven counts of theft, he was sentenced to a total of 46 years. For a count of money laundering he was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.

The court ordered that the sentences run concurrently with the 17-year sentence imposed.

It was further ordered that the sentence run concurrently with an 18-year sentence imposed by the Bloemfontein High Court in October 2018.

Amos Ngubeni. Picture: Hawks

Ngubeni was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for participating in an enterprise through a pattering of racketeering activity, 23 years on five counts of theft, and eight years for money laundering.

The court has ordered that the sentences run concurrently.

It further ordered that eight-year sentence run concurrently with a 15-year sentence imposed by the Bloemfontein High Court in October 2018.

Samuel Ngwenya Picture: Hawks

Ngwenya was sentenced to eight years imprisonment’ for participating in an enterprise through a pattering of racketeering activity, 19 years for four counts of theft, and eight years for money laundering.

The court ordered that the sentences run concurrently with the racketeering activity sentence and further ordered that eight-year sentence run concurrently with a 15-year sentence imposed by the Bloemfontein High Court in October 2018.

Linda James Malope. Picture: Hawks

Malope was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for participating in an enterprise through a pattering of racketeering activity, 15 years for three counts of theft and eight years for money laundering.

The court ordered that the sentences run concurrently with the racketeering activity sentence and further ordered that the eight-year sentence run concurrently with a 17-year sentence imposed by the Kroonstad Regional Court in February 2016.

Wilson Khoza. Picture: Hawks

Khoza was sentenced to eight years’ imprisonment for participating in an enterprise through a pattering of racketeering activity, and 10 years for two counts of theft.

The court ordered the sentences to run concurrently.

“The accused operated as a syndicate,” Hani said.

“Telkom, Eskom, and Transnet suffered damages worth millions due to the accuseds’ criminal activities,” Hani said.

Head of the Hawks in the Western Cape, Major General Mathipa Makgato, lauded the team for their efforts in ensuring the successful arrests and prosecution of the five men.

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