PMB resident leads police to suspects in manhole cover thefts

2009-11-19 00:00

A PIETERMARITZBURG resident helped to recover stolen city manhole covers valued at more than R100 000, which led to the arrest of two brothers who allegedly posed as municipal employees to carry out the thefts.

More than 100 manhole covers were allegedly recovered by police after Derrick Osborne led the police to a house in Clarendon where some of them were hidden.

Two brothers, Dewald (19) and Ryno Erasmus (28), appeared in court this week on theft charges after they were arrested at their home in Roberts Road last week.

Osborne said he saw the brothers driving around and removing the covers in the suburb. When he asked where they were taking them, they said they worked for the municipality.

“They came to my street during the day on a Tuesday and removed the manhole cover and told my wife they were removing steel manholes because they were being stolen.

“They said they will replace them with concrete covers.”

Not convinced by the explanation, Osborne’s wife photographed the vehicle and wrote down its registration number.

When he came home, Osborne decided to trace the vehicle’s owner and went to inquire about the missing covers.

“I went to the house and asked the boys’ father about the manholes. I told him I was giving them five minutes to return the manhole cover on my street or else I would call the police.”

The manhole covers were returned, but the matter didn’t end there.

“It was on a Sunday at about 10.10 pm when I heard a car driving down the road. I peeped through the window and I saw the same car, and two people came out and stole one manhole cover in front of my neighbour’s house.”

When they reached Osborne’s house, he switched on the lights and the vehicle drove off.

“I went back to look for them again the following morning. I was not going to tolerate men who go around my neighbourhood stealing manhole covers.

“While I was speaking to the old man [the father] I saw about 10 manhole covers hidden in the bushes in the yard. I immediately phoned the police and when they arrived they found more,” he said.

The police arrested the two brothers and a total of 110 manhole covers were allegedly recovered.

“The police found 20 manhole covers on the premises and 60 manhole covers were traced to a scrap metal dealership in the city. The police returned to the house and found 30 metal drain covers inside the house,” Osborne claimed.

Msunduzi deputy municipal manager for infrastructure services Phil Mashoko encouraged residents to report incidents of theft.

“The municipality has been made aware of the arrest; we appreciate the growing partnership between the municipality and members of public in combating crime and safeguarding the assets of the municipality,” he added.

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