Two ZESA technicians were arrested and later released on Sunday after they were blocked from accessing a house in Harare’s Kambuzuma suburb where faulty underground cables have left a shopping centre without power.

The ZESA engineers were arrested at the instigation of Michael Reza, the former chief prosecutor now working in the National Prosecuting Authority’s litigation department.

The Electricity Act permits ZESA engineers to enter private property to install or repair power infrastructure, but Reza says the power utility has exposed his family to danger for at least three years after leaving underground cables exposed.

The fault which has knocked out power for a week at nearby Gwenyambira shops in Kambuzuma was traced to the Reza house, but ZESA has been unable to gain access.

Reza said: “l am blocking them (ZESA). We are going to court against ZESA.

“For three years they left their live underground cables exposed. Twice the cables caught fire. More recent there was a fire and l had to go and pick the children up at 1AM.

“I totally refuse to be bullied. The businessmen at the shopping centre offered my sister and brother bribes (to let ZESA fix fault) but they both refused.”

A ZESA spokesman told ZimLive: “We sincerely apologise to our valued customers as we try to ensure service is restored and our teams stand ready to resolve this and any other faults on our network.”

Neighbours who are also without power accused Reza of abusing his authority.

“Reza is a law unto himself and threatens everyone who challenges him,” said a shop assistant at the affected shopping centre.

“ZESA wants to fix the fault and what does he do, he gets the engineers arrested. Running generators is a huge expense. We need a quick solution to this.”

Reza sent ZimLive a video showing exposed ZESA cables inside their yard including the one that caught fire after contact with water, tripping power in the area.

He says ZESA should use overhead cables, insisting that no-one in the area wants underground cables running through their house.