By Sukulwenkosi Dube
Two Plumtree police officers who were recorded on camera by a cross border transporter demanding and receiving a bribe from him at the Plumtree Border Post have each been sentenced to an effective 18 months in jail.
Fume Chibvuri (34) and Aaron Zivuku (28) yesterday pleaded not guilty to extortion when they appeared before Plumtree magistrate Mr Gideon Ruvetsa but were convicted due to overwhelming evidence.
They were each sentenced to 24 months in prison but six months were suspended on condition that they do not within the next five years commit a similar offence.
In passing sentence, Mr Ruvetsa said the cops deserved a custodial sentence to send a message to other corrupt police officers.
“Extortion is a serious offence especially when committed by police officers who are supposed to be custodians of the law. Your actions show that government is losing a lot of revenue to police officers that are demanding bribes from smugglers at our borders.
“Therefore order has to be restored and this can be done through a deterrent sentence,” he said.
Mr Ruvetsa said while Chibvuri and Zivuku had denied the charges, they had failed to present a reasonable defence to prove that they did not commit the offence.
He said their record would be sent to the High Court within the next seven days for review.
The two cops, through their legal counsel, Mr Norman Mugiya of Mugiya and Macharaga Law Chambers, claimed that on the day in question, they were not stationed at the border complex.
They said Mr Gift Moyo, who recorded them demanding payment to grant him passage through the border in July last year, had fabricated a video of them and then circulated it on social media in a bid to tarnish their images.
The cops said Mr Moyo did that in retaliation after they had testified against him in a case of kidnapping.
“Your Worship, on the day in question my clients were working from outside the border conducting some patrols and they didn’t come across the complainant.
“To prove that the video was fabricated, the complainant didn’t report the case but he merely circulated the video. The video shows the complainant giving money to someone but it’s not clear to whom. Maybe he was donating money to a friend and decided to pinpoint my clients,” said Mr Mugiya.
Prosecuting, Mr Stanley Chinyanganya said the police officers approached Mr Moyo on July 14 last year and threatened to arrest him if he did not bribe them.
He gave them $20 but they complained that it is was not enough.
Mr Chinyanganya said tension between the two cops and Mr Moyo heightened after he failed to meet their demands.
“Mr Moyo arrived at the border at around 3PM driving a Toyota Grand Hiace on his way to Bulawayo from Botswana and upon reaching the entrance gate, he was approached by Chibvuri and Zivuku who demanded money from him and threatened to arrest him if he did not comply,” he said.
Mr Chinyanganya said Mr Moyo gave them $20 and requested $10 back saying he did not have any money left but they refused.
Mr Moyo, upon realising that the cops wanted more money, recorded a video of what was transpiring using his cellphone. The Chronicle