By Mashudu Netsianda
The High Court has dismissed an application for bail pending trial by eight armed robbers, among them two police officers, who allegedly raided a Chinese mining company in Zvishavane in December last year.
The suspects went away with an Isuzu pick up, 48 grammes of gold, US$8 820, $6 800 bond notes and 2 155 Chinese yuan.
Moses Karumbidza (30) and Isaac Kawundura (33), who are both police officers based in Mberengwa and attached to the ZRP Support Unit, together with Thulani Nkala (38), Taurai Matarirano (27), Tady Magama (25), Learnmore Makore (27), Wellington Moyo (34) and Hardlife Mazheke (28) all from Zvishavane, armed themselves with three rifles and four pistols and went to Camlark Mine where they robbed the owners of their valuables, gold and cash.
They allegedly ganged up with eight others still at large.
The gang allegedly fired shots in the air and ordered everyone to lie down before ransacking the mine premises on December 11 last year.
The ruling by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese, follows an application by the eight men citing the State as a respondent.
Justice Makonese said there was no guarantee that if given bail, the applicants would not abscond.
“In the circumstances, I am not satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to grant the application at this stage. Accordingly, the application is dismissed,” ruled the judge.
In their bail statements, the eight men through their lawyers Mutendi, Mudisi and Shumba Legal Practitioners, argued that the State case was weak hence it would not induce them to abscond if granted bail.
They said they were wrongfully implicated, arguing that there was no evidence linking them to the alleged offence.
“The allegations are spurious and there is no link between the alleged offence and the applicants save for the alleged confessions extracted through use of brutal force and torture. The police are taking a vindictive approach against the applicants and they are misleading in their averments that the applicants were armed with firearms, which were never recovered,” argued the applicants’ lawyers.
“There is no evidence because no weapons or cartridges were recovered after the alleged commission of the crime to suggest that shots were fired on that particular day.”
The State, which was represented by Mr Kudakwashe Jaravaza, opposed the application, arguing that the accused persons were likely to abscond if granted bail due to the gravity of the alleged crime.
Mr Jaravaza said the eight men had a propensity to interfere with witnesses and commit further offences if granted bail.
“All the accused persons have previous cases of armed robbery committed in Mashava and Kadoma and again in light of the fact that the firearms used in the commission of the robbery were not recovered, it is not in the best interests of justice that the applicants be released for there is a likelihood of them committing similar offences,” he said.
On December 11 last year, the gang allegedly drove to Camlark Investments Mine armed with three rifles and four pistols. It is alleged that the 16-member gang, disguised as police officers, force marched security details at Camlark Mine to the residence of the Chinese owners of the mine.
They used a bolt cutter to destroy a padlock at the gate before accessing the residence. They allegedly fired two shots prompting one of the occupants, Mr Zhang Ren Lon to come out of the house to investigate.
The suspects manhandled Mr Zhang and took him back into his house where they ordered him to show them where he kept the money.
The gang allegedly looted cash amounting to US$8 820, $6 800 bond notes and 2 155 Chinese yuan.
They also broke into one of the mine offices and took a computer hard drive and 48 grammes of gold and loaded them into the stolen car and drove off.
A report was made to the police leading to the arrest of the eight men and only the stolen car was recovered. The Chronicle