The collapse of the Guyana Power and Light (GPL) stolen transformer case which resulted in a dismissal came as a shock for the power company especially since it had the appearance of an “open and shut case,” Chief Executive Officer Bharrat Dindyal says.
Dindyal is confident though that with the recent amendments to the Electricity Sector Reform Act (ESRA) which gives GPL the chance to prosecute their own court cases, the percentage of dismissals will be small. He said that the company now has the ability to pursue such persons and they intend to do so vigorously.
Speaking to Stabroek News recently Dindyal said, “We are not familiar with all the details regarding the reason for the judgement.” Officials from the company are still looking at the reasons behind the dismissal, he continued, pointing out that not all the details were made public.
“We thought that this was an open and shut case, but it didn’t turn out that way,” he said, and admitted he was surprised when he heard that the case had been dismissed. He said he was unaware of all the evidence which was provided to the police prosecution and was never made aware that the case would have ended the way it did. He said that throughout the time the case was being tried company officials were present for the hearings.
He expressed hope that the end result of this case would not encourage persons who had similar intentions, although he emphasised that GPL has put strong systems in place to prevent another transformer theft.
The CEO could not say where exactly the stolen transformer is but gave the assurance it was in the possession of GPL. He said that two transformers were stolen in late 2008 from a batch that had been brought in for flood purposes. One had been found abandoned in South Ruimveldt while the other was found at the Regent Multiplex Mall.
No one was ever held in connection with the one in South but the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) had recommended charges against three persons including the mall owner Ganesh Ramlall in relation to the second one.
He said that after both were found the company took possession of them and later put them into operation. He could not say where they were sent and how useful they have been to the company’s operations.
Following the thefts, Dindyal said a number of new measures have been put in place to protect the company’s equipment. A separate enclosure with adequate lighting has been built to store transformers he said, and this is located in front of the security hut; the prospect that the perpetrators will not be caught in the act is therefore very slim.
“We have recognised that we have to maintain a very high security posture; we have to be under constant guard,” he noted.
He also said that there are now regular audits of the transformers and pointed to several other changes as well, although he did not go into the details.
Two Tuesdays ago Magis-trate Fazil Azeez was forced to dismiss the case based on the insufficiency of evidence, with the failure of the prosecution to call key witnesses being the primary factor in its collapse.
Ramlall, his electrician Rajesh Sanchara and David Jones walked out of the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court free men, more than two years after they were jointly charged with stealing the transformer which was found installed and working at the Regent and Wellington Street business place. The trial started during the first quarter of last year.
The prosecution for one reason or another had closed its case without calling several important witnesses who would have been able to testify about the actual theft of the transformer. Some of those who took the stand contradicted themselves in their testimony and were later discredited by the defence lawyers.
Though there were more than a dozen statements in the prosecution’s file, only about six witnesses testified. It was stressed that the prosecution did not produce a single witness who incriminated either of the defendants in the theft.
The investigating rank, during his testimony, could not produce exhibits to the court to support the case, neither could he identify the serial number of the stolen transformer nor its capacity.
A GPL employee had testified that the statement he had given to the police was not correct.
On January 28, 2009 Jones, Ramlall and Sanchara were charged with stealing the transformer. It is alleged that between October 27 and November 17, 2008 the trio conspired with other persons to steal one 500KVA transformer belonging to GPL valued at $4,140,000.
The matter was later called on at least three occasions but each time it was adjourned. It took more than a year before the trial to began.
The transformer was stolen from the Guyana Power & Light (GPL) Sophia location some time during the last two months of 2008, as an audit had been done that October of that year and at that time all the transformers the company had in stock were intact.
It was only when a city businessman took three transformers to be tested by the company that it was discovered that transformers had been stolen.
The three had been sprayed over. Following that discovery, the company checked its stock and found that two heavy-duty generators had also been stolen.