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Prison officer jailed for January protests

By Patrick Chitumba

A 29 year old prison officer based at Whawha Medium Prison in Gweru who went on a rampage during protests in January has been sentenced to six years in jail.

Protestors loot goods from shops during demonstrations over fuel price hikes in January 2019
Protestors loot goods from shops during demonstrations over fuel price hikes in January 2019

Joseph Njolomoli of Mkoba 5 suburb, who also played for Whawha Football Club, appeared before Gweru provincial magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa facing charges of participating in an illegal gathering with intent to promote violence and breach of peace.

Njolomoni pleaded not guilty to the charge.

He was, however, convicted after a full trial and was handed a six year prison term.

Mrs Msipa suspended a year from his sentence on condition of good behaviour.

In passing sentence, Mrs Msipa said as a prison officer, Njolomoni was supposed to lead by example by stopping or reporting to the police perpetrators of violence instead of participating.

The prison officer was part of a mob that looted from a council bar in Mkoba 6.

“Property worth thousands of dollars was damaged. There was loss of property for complainant. You grouped and went into the bar, broke the key and gained entrance after which you looted beer, a swipe machine and a damaged pool table. Whatever issues you had, you had no right over complainant’s property,” she said.

“You attacked a defenceless complainant since you had a weapon showing you had pre-planned commission of offence. The effect of the crime on complainant, country and society is uncalled for and leads to lawlessness and courts have a duty to protect citizens from lawlessness.

“A custodial sentence will instil confidence in the justice system.”

The State case is that on January 15, Njolomoli, together with other people, convened a meeting at Mkoba 5 with the intention of causing disturbances in the city.

The court heard that on January 16, Njolomoli and a group of protesters blocked Mkoba 5 road turn-off using logs, stones and tyres.

Residents who allegedly identified Njolomoli, among the protesters, informed the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, who then sent three officers to apprehend him before they handed him to the police.

Mr Talent Tadenyika appeared for the State. The Chronicle

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