By Mashudu Netsianda
The High Court has ordered the release of three bogus cops who were last year each sentenced to five years in jail after they used fake police identification cards to mount illegal road blocks and extort $70 from two motorists.
Zibusiso Sikhosana (23) and Brian Mbewe (27) both of Greenhill and Marvellous Ndlovu (23) of Cowdray Park were convicted of extortion and impersonating a police officer by magistrate Mr Stephen Ndhlovu who sentenced them to an effective three years imprisonment after conditionally suspending two years.
Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, who was sitting with Justice Maxwell Takuva during the criminal appeals court, set aside the sentence.
The judge said the sentence imposed by the lower court did not fit the offence committed by the trio.
He said the three men were supposed to have been fined or given community service.
“This is a case in which the penal provision being applied allowed the sentencer to impose a fine. The offenders were youthful first offenders who committed the offence under the influence of intoxicating liquor and they only extorted $70 which is no doubt a very small. Of that amount $50 had already been repaid to the complainants at the time of the conviction,” he said.
Justice Mathonsi substituted the sentence with 12 months in jail for each of the trio.
He suspended six months for five years on condition that they do not within that period commit a similar offence.
Of the remaining six months, the judge set aside three-and-half months on condition they jointly and severally restituted the two complainants $20.
Justice Mathonsi said since the three men had already served two-and- half months, they were entitled to immediate release.
The court heard that on November 23, last year at around 7PM, the three men were travelling in a Honda Fit along Nketa Drive when they mounted a fake police vehicle check point and stopped motorists.
Sikhosana and Mbewe waved at Mr Tapiwa Pikirai, a prison officer stationed at Khami Remand Prison to stop.
They produced fake police identity cards and told him that they were plain clothes police officers conducting an operation targeting illegal pirate taxis.
The court heard that the bogus traffic police officers told Mr Pikirai that they were taking his car to the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID).
Mbewe asked Mr Pikirai if he had any money on him, and he produced a $50 note. Upon receiving the ‘fine’, they got out of the complainant’s car and told him to drive off.
Mr Pikirai saw the trio at another place soliciting a bribe from a different motorist and then teamed up with him to report them to the police.
On the second count, the trio extorted $20 from Mr Lawrence Zingwevhu of Nketa 8 suburb.
They used the same method of impersonating a police officer. The Chronicle