The Scottburgh regional court on Tuesday sentenced Sphiwe Mngadi, 43, to 12 years in jail after his conviction for tampering with and destroying essential infrastructure in the Mkhomazi area in April 2018.
Mngadi was employed at the Passenger Rail Agency of SA (Prasa) when he was found with 12 rolls of copper weighing about 192kg and worth R1m.
On the day of the incident, two Prasa security guards on patrol spotted Mngadi and another person near a railway line.
Since they were in a Prasa vehicle, the guards found nothing out of order and they continued with their patrolling duties.
“After 20 minutes, the guards returned to the site and found that the copper cables had been removed. They then approached Mngadi and asked him for his authority to remove the cables,” National Prosecuting Authority spokesperson Natasha Ramkisson-Kara said.
She said Mngadi could not explain why he was in possession of the 12 rolls of copper cables.
The guards contacted their manager and Mngadi and his accomplice were arrested.
“The accomplice was acquitted as he was Mngadi’s subordinate and was not aware of correct procedures.”
In sentencing Mngadi, the court deviated from the prescribed minimum sentence of 15 years imprisonment due to the fact that he was a first-time offender and had been unemployed since 2018 when he was dismissed after his arrest.
“The NPA welcomes this successful prosecution and appreciates the excellent partnership with the SAPS investigating team. The theft of copper cables has an adverse effect on service delivery and negatively affects our economy.
“The NPA has made a renewed commitment to put more focus on this kind of crime,” Ramkisson-Kara said.
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