On Wednesday the Bethulie regional court in the Free State sentenced three men to an effective 30-year jail term each after they were found guilty of damaging Vodacom infrastructure and theft, according to TimesLIVE.

Patrick Chirambandare, 34, Washington Khoza, 32, and Cliff Hove, 28, were sentenced to 15 years each for tampering with a Vodacom tower near Springfontein. They were sentenced to another 15 years each for stealing 12 Narada batteries valued at R78,000. The batteries belong to Vodacom.

National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) spokesperson Phaladi Shuping said police were called to an incident close to the N1 freeway on June 9 last year, where  there was a break-in at two cellphone towers.

‘The police, together with private security, found the accused at the scene and recovered batteries and seized a white Toyota bakkie that was used in the commission of the crime,’ Shuping said.

Prosecutor Leon Ehlers requested the court to impose harsh punishment on the accused because damage to infrastructure seriously affected South Africans.

‘The NPA has classified damage to infrastructure as one of the priority crimes because of the prevalence of these crimes in the province and they have a serious effect on the lives of South Africans, and for that we call upon the court to impose harsh punishment on the accused.

‘They failed to show any remorse because they denied being involved in the crime and chances of rehabilitation are very slim,’ Ehlers told the court.