Pair jailed 11 and 12 years for stealing copper cable

2011-06-23 00:00

TWO men who broke into the municipal depot in Pietermaritzburg held up a security guard with firearms and stole more than 10 rolls of copper cable on December 6, 2009, were jailed for 11 and 12 years respectively by regional court magistrate Chris van Vuuren yesterday.

The copper cable was valued at R78 435, and all of it was recovered.

Van Vuuren sentenced Simphiwe Gwala (42) of Edendale to 12 years’ imprisonment. Sfiso Ngcobo (24) of Bulwer area was sentenced to 11 years as he has already served a year awaiting trial.

Van Vuuren said courts must send a message to copper cable thieves that if convicted they will in all probability end up in prison.

The fact that they set out to steal copper cable was regarded as an aggravating factor.

“We have heard evidence during the course of the trial that copper cable thieves are called izinyoga, a Zulu word meaning ‘snake’. Some, as a trophy, have a snake tattooed on their body and we heard that accused two [Ngcobo] has a very long snake tattooed on his body,” said Van Vuuren.

He added that the offences of housebreaking with intent to commit robbery and robbery with aggravating circumstances of the copper cable are both very serious crimes.

He accepted in the their favour, however, that the victim of the robbery, security guard Nduna Ngcobo, did not suffer physical injury, even though they pointed firearms at him and instructed him not to look at them. Van Vuuren raised the question of what would have happened if Ngcobo had disobeyed and looked at the burglars.

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