Police in Chiradzulu over the weekend arrested four men suspected to be behind the escalating theft of transmission tower batteries belonging to mobile phone service providers, TNM and Airtel Malawi.
Police officers from Montfort Police Unit in the district also recovered 15 batteries, engraved with Airtel Malawi insignia and colour, at Nguludi Turn-off Trading Centre.
Airtel Malawi public relations manager Edith Tsilizani confirmed the development on Tuesday, saying each battery costs US$400 (about K200 000) to purchase, translating into K3 million for the 15.
Montfort Police Unit officer-in-charge Peter Chikwemba said the 15 electrifier batteries were recovered at a battery charger workshop at the trading centre.
At the time of the arrest, the suspects are said to have already dismantled six of the 15 batteries while nine are still in usable condition.
The four suspects have been identified as Foster Paul, James Matiki and Charles Dolola who were arrested on Saturday at the workshop while Rhodrick Danwick was nabbed on Sunday at Bangwe in Blantyre.
Said Chikwemba: “The suspects claim they bought the batteries in Dedza. So, as we are proceeding with our investigations, we plan to travel there.”
According to Chikwemba, the suspects said they use the batteries’ components to fix damaged motor vehicle batteries.
It is suspected that the 15 batteries are part of the 24 which were stolen last month at Airtel transmission towers on Bangwe Hill.
During the past weeks, there have been several reported cases of battery thefts costing the mobile phone service providers millions of Kwacha.