By Cynthia Dube
A police officer and a fire fighter have appeared in court for allegedly stealing $200 which was in the pocket of the late founder of His Presence Ministries International Apostle Charles Chiriseri following an accident that claimed his life last year.
Apostle Chiriseri died at the 388KM peg along the Harare-Bulawayo highway on September 15 last year at around 10PM when his vehicle hit a donkey.
The late apostle was travelling to Bulawayo with his wife Pastor Pertunia Chiriseri who suffered serious injuries and was admitted in hospital for about a month before she was discharged.
Tawanda Mawere (31) who is stationed at Mbembesi police station and Mthandazo Rick Dube (34) from the Bulawayo Fire Brigade yesterday appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Sithembiso Ncube facing theft charges.
Mawere and Dube pleaded not guilty and Ms Ncube remanded them out of custody to next Monday for sentencing.
“Your Worship, l was at the scene of the accident but l did not count the money. The person who handled the money is Mkhokheli Mpofu but he is late now so l cannot speak for him. I did not steal the money,”said Mawere.
Dube said: “I attended the scene of the accident but l’m a fire fighter, therefore it is not my job to handle the property of the deceased.”
During cross examination, Pastor Chiriseri said she suspects that the cop and the fire fighter stole the money from her husband.
“When the fire brigade came to rescue us, they removed $505 from my husband’s pocket and recorded it in their book. There were five $100 dollar notes and $5. I was surprised when my brother-in-law Bishop Colin Nyathi told me that he was only given $305 when he went to collect the money,” said Pastor Chirisei in tears.
Mount Olives International church Pastor Gordon Dube, who was one of the first people to arrive at the scene, told the court that the late cop Mpofu was the one who took the money.
“I did not see Mawere taking the money, Mkhokheli Mpofu is the one who took $505 and appended his signature in a note book,” he said.
Another pastor at the same church, Mr Whollo Ncube, who arrived at the scene of the accident, said he only took pictures and did not bother about the money.
Prosecuting, Mr Alfonse Makonese said on September 15 last year, the late apostle and his wife were driving from Harare to Bulawayo in their Toyota Vigo Double Cab. Apostle Chiriseri had $700 in his pocket and used $200 on groceries and fuel along the way.
Mr Makonese said when he was involved in the accident, the Bulawayo Fire brigade, ambulance and police arrived at the scene.
The court heard that Dube, who was part of the crew, retrieved the deceased’s body from the wreckage and searched it.
“He then took $505, 95 from the wallet and recorded it in the Famona Fire Brigade log book. Mawere and Dube appended their signatures in the presence of Mount Olives International church Pastor Gordon Dube,” said the prosecutor.
When Pastor Dube left the accident scene, the duo allegedly connived to steal $200 from the money they had recovered and shared it among themselves.
Mr Makonese said the theft was discovered when Bishop Nyathi was told by Pastor Dube about the money that was found in Apostle Chiriseri’s pocket.
Mkhokheli Mpofu (30), a constable who was also set to appear in court in connection with the theft, died after an ex-policeman allegedly hit him with a car at a roadblock in March.
The constable was hit by a car while manning a roadblock near the spot where Apostle Chiriseri died.
A Kurai Bus Service conductor, Forget Chikweya, who allegedly stole a Samsung S6 at the accident scene of Apostle Chiriseri’s accident, died on November 9 last year.
He was allegedly part of a group that stole groceries and gadgets before emergency service teams arrived.
Chikweya was the only person who died in a car accident at the 13km peg along the Bulawayo-Plumtree Road.
Honest Hleza, a fire fighter from the Bulawayo Fire Brigade who allegedly stole a laptop, died sometime last December in a car accident. The Chronicle