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Railway lines thief languishes in jail for four years before sentencing

FOREIGN national Warren Tapela pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years imprisonment with an alternative fine of R10 000 as the court put into consideration that he has been incarcerated for four years without bail. File Picture: Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA

FOREIGN national Warren Tapela pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years imprisonment with an alternative fine of R10 000 as the court put into consideration that he has been incarcerated for four years without bail. File Picture: Leon Lestrade. African News Agency/ANA

Published Jan 13, 2022

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PRETORIA – The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation (Hawks) in Mpumalanga has welcomed the sentencing of 31-year-old Warren Tapela who appeared before the Middelburg regional court charged with theft of railway lines.

“Tapela pleaded guilty on the charge and was subsequently sentenced to five years imprisonment with an alternative fine of R10 000. The court while passing sentence on Monday 10 January 2022, put into consideration that the accused had already served two thirds of his sentence, as he was incarcerated for a period of four years without bail,” said Hawks spokesperson in Mpumalanga, Captain Dineo Lucy Sekgotodi.

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She said Tapela was arrested on October 24, 2018, during an intelligence driven operation executed by members of the Middelburg-based Hawks serious organised crime investigation team assisted by security companies.

The operation followed information received about people stealing rail way lines on the R555 Road towards Stofberg.

“The operation resulted in the arrest of two foreign nationals. They were both denied bail and made several court appearances until they were found guilty on Tuesday, 11 January 2022,” said Sekgotodi.

“The case against the second accused Liano Mazibe was postponed to 25 January 2022 for sentencing. The accused remains in custody.”

In a separate case, the Hawks in Mpumalanga this week said a woman accused of masterminding her husband’s murder was denied bail by the Emalahleni Magistrate’s Court.

Patricia Mabojane Kutu, 28, has been implicated in the murder of her husband, Sergeant Joseph Christopher Kutu who was attached to the SAPS Tactical Response Team in Witbank. The police officer was fatally shot in his home on the evening of July 24, 2021.

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“The accused was denied bail and remanded in custody. The case was postponed to 11 February 2022, to be joined with her co-accused Vincent Bongonkosi Langa (39) and Xolani Peter Ndabezitha (39). Investigation continues,” Sekgotodi said.

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