‘Accused cable thief hid in bakkie’

2015-01-21 00:00

A MAN on trial in the Pietermaritzburg regional court for theft of over R400 000 worth of copper cable was allegedly among a group found ­hiding in the bin of a bakkie on top of rolls of stolen Transnet conductor cables in 2012.

This was said by state advocate Annelize Harrison when she outlined the case the prosecution hopes to prove against Joseph Bila (26) of ­Daveyton. Bila is allegedly an illegal immigrant who entered the country on a date and place unknown to the state. According to the charge sheet, his nationality is unknown.

However, Harrison yesterday told regional magistrate Bhekizitha ­Phoswa that the state would not lead any evidence in relation to the charge that Bila contravened the Immigration Act.

Bila, who is represented by advocate Thulasizwe Ngubane, has pleaded not guilty to five counts. They are: theft of overhead cables worth R439 064 from Transnet at ­Balgowan on August 29, 2012; ­malicious ­injury to property for ­cutting or damaging the cable; ­money laundering, escaping from ­police custody at Nottingham Road on September 2, 2012; and entering the country illegally without a valid passport or other documents.

The court was told that the money laundering charge arises from the fact that Bila, and his accomplices, allegedly knew the cable in question was stolen. In a bid to conceal the nature of the cable, it was cut into small ­pieces, some of the conductor cable was hidden in vegetation and some of it was moved at night.

Harrison said the prosecution will lead evidence that Bila was connected to the theft of the overhead cables at Balgowan. When private investigators identified a “suspicious” bakkie in the area, two of the occupants jumped from the moving vehicle.

“There was a canvas cover on the bin. When it was lifted, five suspects were found lying on top of rolls of copper conductor cable, as well as paraphernalia used to cut it,” ­Harrison said.

The case is proceeding.

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