By Thandeka Moyo
A BULAWAYO ex-convict released under the presidential amnesty last year was on Thursday convicted of 11 counts of armed robbery and one of aggravated rape and sentenced to 56 years in prison.
Nkosilathi Mthombeni, 30, of Cement Side tried buying his freedom by feigning insanity but failed to fool regional magistrate, Chrispen Mberewere, who convicted him. Mthombeni will, however, serve an effective 43 years after Mberewere suspended 13 years on condition of good behaviour.
“The courts find you guilty as charged and you’re sentenced to 36 years in prison for the seven counts of armed robbery. You will further serve 20 years in prison for the aggravated rape count. Of the total 56 years, 13 years have been suspended on condition of good behaviour,” said magistrate Mberewere.
Mthombeni connived with two accomplices who are still at large and robbed Bulawayo residents including a woman whom they gang raped ‘before hanging her on a tree naked.’
In one of the robberies, Mthombeni and his crew gang-raped the victim who was menstruating, while another woman fled naked.
Mberewere blasted Mthombeni when he started acting as if he was possessed when the magistrate was sentencing him.
Prosecuting, Trust Muduma, told the court that on August 19, 2010, Progress Ndlovu was waiting for transport at the corner of Robert Mugabe Way and 13th Avenue in Bulawayo.
Mthombeni, who was driving a Mazda 323 vehicle with his two friends, offered Ndlovu a lift to Famona.
“While in the car near Gifford High School, the trio produced knives and covered Ndlovu’s head with a sack and robbed him of $35 and his mobile phone,” said Saruwaka.
On September 7 the same year, at around 7PM, Shadreck Mafuta was driving his white Nissan Sunny when the trio pretended they wanted transport at the intersection of Leopold Takawira Avenue and George Silundika Street.
“Immediately after boarding the vehicle, the trio produced knives and ordered Mafuta to stop the vehicle and ordered him to jump to the back-seat where he was forced to lie facing down,” said Muduma.
He told the court that the trio drove the vehicle to a bushy area near Kumalo suburb where they force-marched Mafuta to a nearby tree and tied him using seat belts they had cut from the vehicle.
They robbed him of $210.
“On September 11, they used the same method to rob Godwin Dube of his vehicle valued at $2, 090,” said Muduma.
The court heard that on the same day at around 9PM, the three men were driving a
Mazda vehicle when they offered Hendrix Gweshero a lift to Ilanda suburb.
When they got to Livingstone Avenue in Suburbs, the trio produced knives and robbed him of property valued at $153.
Saruwaka told the court that on the same night, an hour later, a lady was waiting for transport at the corner of Robert Mugabe Way and 12th Avenue in the city when the trio pulled over and offered her a lift to United Bulawayo Hospitals.
When they got to Livingstone Avenue in Suburbs, the trio produced knives and robbed her of property worth $82 including her jeans and ladies panties she was wearing.
“The men then force-marched her to a nearby bush where they tried to rape her but she managed to escape naked,” the prosecutor said.
The court heard that on the same night, the trio continued with their robbing spree when they gave a lift to a woman who was going to Pumula suburb.
When they got to Hyde Park cemetery, they stopped the vehicle and tore the victim’s clothes using a knife before taking turns to rape her.
The court heard the woman was menstruating. His victims picked out Mthombeni at a police identification parade. The Chronicle