By Tanaka Mrewa
An alleged serial car thief from Filabusi has appeared in court for hijacking a taxi which he later burnt in a bid to conceal fingerprints evidence.
Farai Mlauzi (32) pleaded not guilty to an armed robbery charge allegedly committed on December 10 last year at around 10PM when he appeared before Bulawayo Regional Magistrate Mr Chrispen Mberewere on Friday.
He was remanded in custody to today for continuation of trial. Mlauzi has another pending armed robbery case in connection with a crime committed on December 9 last year.
Magistrate Mberewere heard how Mlauzi and Admire Chidungu allegedly hired a taxi in Esigodini.
They allegedly attacked the driver and dumped him before escaping with his vehicle.
In defence, Mlauzi said the taxi driver, Agrippa Munsaka (43), agreed to accompany them to ‘accomplish their missions’.
Mlauzi said Munsaka charged them $50 to drive them around but later escaped with their bag full of money.
“Your Worship, we told him we wanted to work on some deals. He encouraged us saying the economy is hard and people should look for money in every possible way. He even suggested that we rob a man we saw at Mbalabala turn off. He might have reported us to the police because he was worried about his car. He actually fled with our bag full of money. We never attacked him like he is alleging,” he said.
Testifying, Munsaka said Mlauzi and Chidungu tied him to a tree, exchanged his Reebok shoes for plastic sandals and later untied him because they could not drive his car.
“They told me to turn at Falcon turnoff. I drove for a further 400 metres before they told me to stop and they forced me out of the car. Chidungu was carrying an iron rod and Mlauzi a stone. They threatened to kill me if I tried to flee. Mlauzi tied me to a tree close by. They took $30 from my pocket, a cell phone and my shoes,” he said.
Munsaka said the duo failed to drive his car so they untied him and ordered him to instruct them how to drive it.
“They force marched me to the passenger’s seat. Mlauzi took the driver’s seat and asked me to instruct him how to drive. They later dumped me at Esigodini Hospital turnoff and sped off. I staggered to Esigodini police station where I reported the matter,” he said.
Prosecuting, Mr Simbarashe Manyiwa said police arrested Mlauzi and Chidungu after they drove the car to Filabusi where they parked it behind Edward Primary School and burnt it to ashes.
Last week, Mlauzi was in court after he and four others – three men and a woman – robbed a Bulawayo man of his Honda Fit.
They allegedly asked for a lift into town from Mahatshula suburb from Mr Anesu Chipande, a plumber from Hillcrest suburb and seized his car before they later dumped it in Ntabazinduna.
Mr Chipande allegedly fled from the gang naked and sought assistance from a nearby homestead.
Mlauzi and his gang allegedly got away with a Samsung S2 cell phone, $5, two grinders, two drilling machines, various spanners, a water pump pliers and a pipe cutter.
One of the suspects Hloniphani Ndlovu (31) was arrested in Mhondoro in Mashonaland West and he implicated Mlauzi.
Three of their accomplices, whose names were not mentioned in court, are still at large. The Chronicle