Durban — While political party leaders in eThekwini have welcomed the arrest of two men found in possession of stolen street-light fittings, they have expressed concern over the suspects being granted bail.
Hermino Nelson Afonso and Salomon Antonio Zibia, both Mozambican nationals, were arrested last month with eThekwini Municipality property valued at R156 000.
While searching vehicles, police and border management at Kosi Bay came upon a van with a trailer. They found some of the street-light fittings, which still had the City’s emblem on them, in the bin of the van and others in the trailer.
The lights were positively identified by City officials, who alleged that they had been stolen from the City’s storage shop in Springfield Park.
Afonso, who is self-employed and transports goods between South Africa and Mozambique, said he had got the lights from a man he named as Nando in Clermont on November 11 and was to transport these to Mozambique.
Zibia, who worked as a carpenter specialising in the installation of cupboards, said he had asked Afonso for a lift to Mozambique to finish some work, adding that he was not present when the stolen property was loaded into the car.
Afonso and Zibia appeared in court on Thursday and were granted bail of R10 000 each. Their bail conditions include surrendering their passports, reporting to the police station twice a week and remaining in the country until the matter has been finalised.
DA caucus leader Thabani Mthethwa expressed concern that the suspects had been granted bail.
“But more worrying is the fact that someone from the municipality is working with criminals to steal from the municipality. Until those in the municipality working with criminals are arrested this problem won’t go away,” said Mthethwa.
IFP caucus leader Mdu Nkosi said while bail was a constitutional right he was concerned about the guarantee that the two would not flee the country.
“Since the goods were intercepted at the Mozambican border, we don’t know what connections they have to get themselves over the border. We are pleased that there will more arrests. We want the officials implicated in this to be caught for selling infrastructure meant for ratepayers,” said Nkosi.
EFF caucus leader Themba Mvubu agreed that the accused were flight risks.
“All that we hope for is a successful prosecution and a conviction.”
The National Prosecuting Authority plans to enrol more suspects in the case.