30-year prison sentence for tampering with essential infrastructure

Friday, June 14, 2024

Tinos Ndebele has been sentenced to 30 years of direct imprisonment after being convicted on charges of tampering with essential infrastructure as well as theft from essential infrastructure.

On 8 June 2023, an alarm was triggered at a Telkom cellphone tower in Roodewal. Telkom officials went to the scene and found fencing to the tower damaged and a container broken and the door forced open. Inside the container, 12 batteries amounting to R36 000 were stolen.

According to the Free State National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), a police forensic team was called to the scene and fingerprints were lifted from the crime scene. 

“The fingerprints lifted matched those of the accused. Through diligent police investigations, the accused was traced and arrested,” said the NPA.

In his defence during the trial, the accused explained that he was a snake catcher and on the said date he was chasing a King Cobra and the snake went into the container. This explained why his fingerprints were found at the crime scene.

Regional Court Prosecutor Petro van den Berg argued that the court should sentence the accused to the maximum sentence for this criminality, as tampering with essential infrastructure offences were on the increase and harming the economy, lives of the citizenry and affecting the running of the country

The Bloemfontein Regional Court found him guilty of tampering with essential infrastructure and theft from infrastructure.

He was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment on a charge of tampering with infrastructure and 15 years imprisonment on a charge of theft from infrastructure.

The court ordered that five years of count 2 (theft from infrastructure) to run concurrently with count 1 thus the accused was effectively sentenced to 30 years of direct imprisonment.

“The National Prosecuting Authority will continue to prioritise the prosecution of crime and criminals that disproportionately undermine South Africans’ safety, the country’s socio-economic well-being, the functioning of the economy of the country, compromise the well-being of the citizenry, and the rule of law,” said the NPA. – SAnews.gov.za