A 35-year-old man has been found guilty and convicted of fuel theft. The Directorate for Priority Crime Investigation confirmed that it was able to secure the conviction of Jumbo Silombo on 27 July 2022. He appeared in the Escourt Regional Court. In a statement, the DPCI says: “On 27 July 2022, the Estcourt Regional Court convicted and sentenced Jumbo Silombo (35) to pay a fine of R100 000 fine or four years imprisonment for stealing fuel at Mimosadale area near Estcourt in November 2020.”
But, Silombo was not acting alone. The DPCI added: “Silombo and his accomplices were caught by private security company tempering with Transnet pipeline. His accomplices fled the scene and Silombo disconnected the pipe before he drove off with a tanker. A chase ensued and he was spotted at the truck stop were he abandoned the tanker. He fled on foot to the nearby bushes.”
“Police were alerted and he was arrested. He appeared in the Estcourt Magistrate’s Court and his bail was successfully opposed until he was sentenced. Half of his sentence was suspended for three years,” the statement continued.
The theft of fuel in South Africa has become more common. Earlier this year amaBhungane reported that: “Theft of fuel is one of the less publicised forms of crime in this country, but it is believed to be operated by armed syndicates suspected of having deep and far-reaching tentacles, who also engage in illegal mining and cable theft.” They added that: “In April last year (2021), Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told Parliament Transnet had lost 8.5 million litres of fuel valued at R102 million in the 2019/20 financial year.”
In March there was a diesel spillage and resultant pressure drop at the multiproduct pipeline between Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, and Heidelberg, in Gauteng
At the time the Transnet Pipelines CE Michelle Phillips said: “We continue to work with law enforcement agencies to stop this criminal activity and keep the pipelines and surrounding communities safe.”
In this incident, it was ‘confirmed that there was tampering with a block valve chamber, which resulted in a significant amount of diesel being spilled into the environment.’