Ceres Regional Court has sentenced Rethabile Tsemane, to an effective 12-year imprisonment after convicting him for cutting electric cables of the Vergenoeg Farm irrigation system, causing damage worth more than a hundred thousand rands. The court also convicted and sentenced the Lesotho national, for illegally entering and remaining in the Republic of South Africa.

In his plea and sentencing agreement, Tsemane confessed that he was walking past the pump house of the Ceres farm on 09 August 2022 when he decided to enter it to remove some of its cables so that he could sell them for money to support himself. While busy cutting the cables and before he could completely remove them, the farm’s manager caught him and called the police.

He was charged with tampering, damaging, or destroying essential infrastructure in contravention of Section 3(1) read with Sections 1, 3(2) and 6 of The Criminal Matters Amendment Act, Act 18 of 2015, further read with Part II of Schedule 2 to the Criminal Law Amendment Act 105 of 1997. The State alleged that he unlawfully and intentionally, tampered, damaged, or destroyed essential infrastructure, by cutting electrical cables which formed part of the watering system for trees and crops on the farm, whilst he knew or reasonably known or suspected that it is essential infrastructure for the provision of electricity to the pump which forms part of the irrigation system of the farm.

He admitted that the value of damages he caused by cutting the said cables amounted to R117000. He also admitted that he was aware that the cables provided electricity for the irrigation system of the farm and should it be removed or cut there would be no water supply for the trees and crops on the farm. He knew what he was doing was wrong and punishable by a court of law and that he acted intentionally.

He also confessed that he entered the Republic of South Africa in 2017, to seek employment to better his life without any valid documentation. He remained in the country without being in possession of any documentation which allowed him to remain in the country legally. He admits that he contravened Section 49(1)(a) of the Immigration Act 13 of 2002, and was aware that he was committing an offense for which if found guilty he can be sentenced by a court of law.

The 30-year-old was sentenced 15 years imprisonment for tampering, damaging, or destroying the farm’s essential infrastructure with three years imprisonment suspended for five years on condition he is not convicted of an offence of that he tampered, damaged or destroyed essential infrastructure during the period of suspension. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment for entering and remaining in the country illegally. The court ordered the sentences to run concurrently in In terms of Section 280 of Act 51 of 1977 of the Criminal Procedure Act.

Western Cape Director of Public Prosecutions Adv Nicolette Bell, welcomed the sentence saying essential infrastructure damage, tampering or destruction has huge consequences especially in farms as that may destroy crops worth millions of rands, lead to job losses, food shortage and increase in food prices.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *