Allleged timber thief caught red-handed

The truck was almost fully loaded when officials arrived on scene.

 

A MAN was caught stealing timber in broad daylight at the Bhekuzulu Cemetery on Thursday last week.

According to the Mayor Jerry Sibiya, he went out on Thursday to oversee a meeting in Bhekuzulu, when he was alerted that a double trailer timber truck had been parked on the section of graves without headstones in the Bhekuzulu Cemetery and that there were people cutting up and loading the pine trees that fence the area.

The mayor then contacted the Public Safety Department’s TS Mthembu, who arrived on scene in the nick of time, as the truck had almost been fully loaded.

Mr Mthembu explained to the man how the pine trees were municipal property and that he had committed a crime by chopping them down.

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When asked who had given him permission to cut down the timber, the man claimed that he had asked the AbaQulusi Speaker, Michael Khumalo, if he could ‘clean up’ around the cemetery.

These claims, however, proved to be false, as the speaker had no idea who the man even was when he was contacted for confirmation.

The truck that had been used was estimated to carry around 24 tons and the timber could have been to the value of around R44 000.

The local police were contacted and both man and loaded truck were escorted to the police station where the man was charged with trespassing, destruction of municipal property and illegal entry into a protected area.

“This man drove over and parked on those graves showing no respect whatsoever for the dead. That cannot be tolerated,” said the mayor.

AbaQulusi’s municipal manager, Mr Bonga Ntanzi, said that it is very important for locals to be aware of the fact that they can’t just do as they please with municipal property and that there are correct procedures that need to be followed.

“For example, I have a tree that was planted by the municipality just outside my house. The tree is very old and is being eaten by termites, and as a result it has become hollow and may fall over if extreme weather conditions occurred. As a result, I have written a letter to the municipality requesting that I cut down that tree as it poses a danger to my family. Despite the fact that I am a municipal manager, I have followed the correct procedure instead of just cutting down the tree as I saw fit,” said the MM.

The MM went on to say that locals could not just go about cutting trees as they are municipal property and are planted for a reason.

The timber is currently being kept safe at the public safety department and the municipality is considering selling it and using that money to cover other municipal costs.

  AUTHOR
Sine Thwala

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