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Bribe cop trial stalled as lawyer falls sick

The trial of the officer-in-charge at Mbare Police Station, who was arrested for demanding $60 per week from commuter omnibus operators, failed to start yesterday after her lawyer fell ill.

Violet Sigauke (55) was arrested on February 9 following a trap during which she allegedly received $60 from a commuter omnibus operator.

Sigauke dumped her first lawyer, Mr Ashiel Mugiya, and engaged Mr Admire Rubaya.

Mr Rubaya is reportedly ill, prompting Harare magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube to postpone trial to March 15.

She is facing criminal abuse of duty as a public officer.

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On her initial remand, Sigauke told the court that four male colleagues who arrested her indecently touched her during a body search.

The complainant in the matter is a police officer, Thomas Mabgwe, who is stationed at Police General Headquarters (PGHQ) in Harare.

Prosecuting, Ms Francesca Mukumbiri alleged that in January this year, Sigauke phoned Kudzai Mapako, who is employed by Mama Ru commuter omnibus company as a manager.

It is alleged she ordered him to pay $120 for free passage of his commuter omnibuses for two weeks in her policing jurisdiction.

The court heard that Mapako met Sigauke at a bank in Graniteside in Harare and paid $40 as part of the bribe money.

It is alleged Sigauke told Mapako the money was too little and that he was to pay $60 per week for free passage of his fleet.

On February 8 this year Sigauke phoned Mapako demanding the money, it is alleged.

Mapako allegedly contacted his friend, Reuben Chimanja, and asked him to pay the money on his behalf since he was out of Harare. Mapako advised Sigauke that he was sending someone.

At around 3pm the same day, Chimanja went to PGHQ and reported that Sigauke was demanding a bribe from his friend.

A trap was authorised and four members of the police intelligence unit went to Mbare Police Station.

Chimanja allegedly gave the trap money to his conductor Wilson Siwela to hand over to Sigauke around 6pm.

The money was in two $20 notes and two $10 notes.

The four police officers immediately entered Sigauke’s office, identified themselves and showed her the trap authority. Mabgwe reached for Sigauke’s drawer and she stood up, removed her belt and threatened to assault Siwela for betraying her.

It is alleged that she tried to swallow the trap money while resisting arrest and bit Mabgwe’s left thumb during the scuffle.

She spat out the money and the notes tallied with the photocopies. The Herald