Fixed phone operator, TelOne, in 2017 lost over $100 000 worth of telecommunications equipment mainly copper cables due to theft and vandalism. Many of the cables are ripped up in the dead of night. They are easy to target because they are generally far from homes and people, and there are thousands of miles of track to choose from, which makes them virtually impossible to protect.
In a drive to fight crime and vandalism, TelOne initiated a bounty program to curb theft of copper cables and telecommunications equipment. Since the program started Telone has paid over $20 000 and 122 criminals arrested. Cable theft carries a mandatory 10 year sentence and 5 years for transporting or harbouring criminals.
The Postal and Communications Act Chapter 12:05 stipulates that the ringleader (s) of a copper stealing syndicate should be sentenced to no less than 10 years, while their accessories should be slapped with five year jail terms.
An increase in the number of copper cable thefts has been experienced of late fuelled by illegal copper dealers who are selling the scrap copper to neighbouring countries. Vandalism of telecommunications equipment is affecting service delivery and internet service provision to our clients.
Theft and vandalism of essential infrastructure is an ongoing major problem for both the government and business, with thieves targeting everything from cables and heavy metal in buildings to traffic lights, sewer covers, taps and lamp post.
TelOne has also partnered with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and the Zimbabwe Republic Police to step up patrols at the country’s borders to control the smuggling of copper stolen from the TelOne network.