Durban - Bongani Mzizi has been handed a prison sentence of 11 years by the Evander Regional Court after reaching a plea deal with the State.
He was convicted on charges related to tampering with essential infrastructure, theft of petrol from a pipeline and possession of suspected stolen petrol.
Mzizi’s sentencing stems from an incident that took place on July 2, 2022, when a sudden drop in pressure was detected in a pipeline, leading to the dispatch of security personnel to investigate.
During their investigation, the security team noticed a tanker approaching from the area where the pressure drop had occurred.
They attempted to halt the tanker's progress, but their efforts proved futile as the driver and crew of the vehicle sped away. This resulted in a high-speed chase.
Eventually, in Springs, with the assistance of the SAPS there, the security personnel apprehended the two individuals involved, and upon inspection, the tanker was found to be carrying 40 litres of petrol.
A preliminary investigation was conducted, which confirmed that the sample from the tanker matched the fuel from the crime scene, leading to the arrest of the two suspects.
The trial of Mzizi's alleged accomplice, Harold Mabunda, has been postponed until August 18, 2023, and is set to take place at the Evander Regional Court.
Major General Nico Gerber, the provincial head of the Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation in Mpumalanga, commended the investigation team for their efforts in ensuring that those responsible for the destruction of essential infrastructure faced justice.
He urged the team to remain resolute in their endeavours, emphasising that the second accused, Mabunda, had yet to face the consequences of his actions.
Tampering with vital infrastructure posed a significant threat to public safety and disrupted the smooth functioning of essential services.
Police said the successful resolution of the case served as a reminder that law enforcement agencies were committed to maintaining the integrity of crucial systems and would take decisive action against those found guilty of such crimes.