Community police members of Chiwamba area in Lilongwe arrested a man suspected to have vandalized Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) assets on Tuesday August 29 2022.
Kanengo Police spokesperson Esther Mkwanda said the members caught the suspect Kondwani Chikoma while he was vandalizing stay wire in the area, and eventually handed him over to the law enforcers.
The members found the 42-year-old ransacking the stay wire along the 11KVA powerline from Kanengo to Chiwamba in Traditional Authority Chimutu in the district.
She said the suspect was also found in possession of copper conductor, which he is suspected to have stolen at a transformer in Lilongwe.
The suspect, who hails originally from Traditional Authority Mwazama in Nkhotakota District, appeared before Mkukula Magistrate’s Court on Friday September 2 2022 to answer charges of theft and vandalism.
The offences contravene the Electricity Act and Penal Code; hence carries stiff punishment, including custodial sentence of up to 10 years.
Escom Central Region Manager, McVittie Chiphwanya, has since condemned the incident and encouraged the public to emulate the example of Lilongwe community members in safeguarding the company’s assets.
He said theft and vandalism of Escom property affects service delivery, including to essential service providers such as health facilities, schools and water treatment plants thereby putting lives at risk.
Escom roughly spends K2 billion annually to replace vandalized transformers alone.
In a separate development, Chiphwanya recently urged members of the community in Lilongwe and the surrounding areas to cooperate with the power utility employees to ensure smooth service delivery.
Chiphwanya made the call on August 18 2022 at a community sensitization meeting at Dzenza after some youths attacked a switch-gear technician who wanted to conduct switching at Dzedza Sub-station in Area 25.
“We came here to sensitize the community leaders for them to understand the role of citizens in our service delivery. All of them have assured us that they understand the importance of our operations and that such threats will never happen again. They are attributing it [the attack] to some irresponsible citizens,” he said.
The attack occurred in July 2022 when some unruly youths threw missiles at the Escom technician, accusing him of switching off electricity in the area. Police whisked the officer away to safety.
Part of the vandalized wires
Image: The suspect Kondwani Chikoma and the vandalized wires