National Railways Of Zimbabwe Major Breakthrough Against Brass Bearing Thieves

The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has scored a major breakthrough after apprehending three people for stealing brass bearings from its wagon wheel axles. For years, the NRZ has had challenges with thefts of brass bearings from wagon wheel axles with no arrests being made.

The thieves would remove the bearings and replace the lids so that the thefts went unnoticed for some time. The thefts would only be discovered after wagons developed a technical fault known as “hot box” which occurs when the axle generates excessive heat due to the absence of a bearing.

On carrying out checks, NRZ wagon examiners would find the bearings missing although the lid would be intact. Because of the sophistication of the thefts, it was difficult to determine when the thefts would have taken place. This made NRZ Security Services Branch and the police to suspect that the thefts were inside jobs.

However, a recent tip-off led to the answer of the mystery.Two men were arrested in Triangle looking for transport to ferry brass bearings to a buyer at Lundi growth point along the Masvingo-Beitbridge road. NRZ Security details and the police set up a trap resulting in the arrest of Wantmore Masukume (33) of Chief Jahana in Insiza, Tinashe Zireva (23) of Triangle.

Information provided by the two men led to the arrests of the alleged buyer Thulani Moyo (36) of Ascot Gweru. The three are not employees of the NRZ. A total of 88 brass bearings valued at US$16 510.56 were recovered. The buyer was found with 12 empty bags to load the bearings in and 10 500 South African Rands which was to be used to pay the suppliers.

Masukume and Zireva were sentenced to an effective 36 months in jail of which six months were suspended for five years. A further 12 months were suspended on condition they paid restitution of RTGS$69 700 to the NRZ by 23 November 2020. Moyo was remanded in custody as she has another pending case involving 20 brass bearings which she had already disposed of.

The NRZ would like to thank the informer who provided information leading to the arrest of the gang.

The organisation appeals to members of the public to be on the lookout and report people who tamper with railway infrastructure. The rail giant further appeals to the Government through the judiciary to review some of the sentences meted against State infrastructure thieves and vandals for deterrent punishment. The NRZ has a whistle blower programme which rewards people reporting cases of vandalism to its infrastructure or who help protect railway assets.

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