11 000 volts kill copper cable ‘thief’

Fire brigade officers rap the body of the man who was electrocuted while stealing electric cables in Queen's Park East in Bulawayo yesterday. (picture by Obey Sibanda)

Fire brigade officers wrap the body of the man who was electrocuted in Queen’s Park East in Bulawayo yesterday. (picture by Obey Sibanda)

Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
A SUSPECTED copper cables thief was yesterday found dead hanging on an electric pole in Queens Park East suburb in Bulawayo after being electrocuted by a 11 000 volts power line.

The yet to be identified man was discovered in the morning by residents who were working in their fields before alerting emergency services.

A Zesa official who declined to be named said 11 000 volts can power up to three medium density suburbs.

The officials said the deceased’s action disrupted power supplies to Mahatshula suburb.

When a Chronicle news screw arrived at the scene at about 11:30AM, Zesa officials and emergency departments personnel were already on site, conducting investigations.

The victim’s body which was almost a lump of charcoal, was later removed by members of the Bulawayo Fire Brigade.

Residents said they were shocked to learn that electricity could burn a person to that extent.

Rescue workers lower the body of a suspected cable thief from a power line in Queens Park, Bulawayo yesterday

Rescue workers lower the body of a suspected cable thief from a power line in Queens Park, Bulawayo yesterday

The residents said they suspect the victim was working with a syndicate as there were no tools found at the scene.

A resident Mr Rodger Matshiya said he hoped others will learn that tampering with power lines is suicidal.

“His body was discovered by one of my boys who was working in the fields before I rushed to the scene. What he did is just like committing suicide, he knew that electricity kills, everyday we’re told that electricity kills. How much does he get from this?” said Matshiya.

Another resident Mr Zibusiso Khumalo said his death will be a lesson to like minded people.

Bulawayo’s Chief Fire Officer Mr Richard Peterson said his office received a call alerting them that someone was trapped on an electrical pole at 11.23 AM.

He said upon arrival his team had to liaise with Zesa officials to cut off power supplies before they lowered his body to the ground.

“We received a call that someone was trapped and hanging on a power line at 11:23AM and arrived at the scene at 11:30AM. The power is 11 000 volts hence we had to collaborate with Zesa personnel to cut off supplies so that we could remove the body,” he said.

Mr Peterson said a life was needlessly lost and called on members of the public to desist from tampering with power lines.


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  • Essexvale

    Any civilised person would naturally be shocked by the tragic incident; however, try as I may, I find myself hardened to the incident by the outrage I feel concerning our dangerous and darkened streets which are a result of the criminal activities of electrical cable thieves. Loved ones, including myself, have been victims of muggers on those perilous streets. So no ….. I feel no pity for the fried thief!

  • reggie mabvuwo

    Saying 11000V powers up to 3 medium density suburbs is a fallacy in Electrical Engineering terms. Voltage has nothing to do with the amount of equipment that can be powered. 11000V can power a single electric motor as much as it can a number of suburbs. Power rating is what determines the extend to which a supply line can power.

    Voltage is energy per unit charge. The higher the voltage the more readily it pumps current into a load. Also the more the amount of energy dissipated in anything that is connected across two points with a voltage difference. Holding two wires at a voltage difference of 11000 causes a very large current to flow through the body. That current is accompanied by “destruction of the body tissues” – because the energy (product of voltage, current and time) dissipated is high. On the other hand the lower voltage that we use in houses (220V) causes a smaller current and hence poses less danger because less current flows and hence less energy dissipated in the body.

  • Shocked indeed !

    Shocking !!! to say the least, hahahaha!!! Good riddance to bad rubbish!!

  • Suppose

    Maybe that wasn’t a copper cable thief. Suppose that was somoene flying during the night, conducting regular, scheduled patrols on citizens and then lost the night vision lenses, or flying apparatus resulting in getting tangled with electric cables?