By Mashudu Netsianda
The High Court has ordered police to release a South African registered kombi belonging to an umalayitsha which was impounded last year after it was found carrying a carcass of an alleged stolen beast.
The vehicle, a Toyota Quantum belonging to Mr Bongani Tshabalala, was impounded last year in November after his mechanic Ulikantse Mdlongwa and his accomplice Lawrence Maseko were intercepted by police carrying the carcass of a beast suspected to have been stolen.
The vehicle was taken to Bulawayo Central Police Station pending the finalisation of the stocktheft case against Mdlongwa and Maseko.
Mr Tshabalala, who is not linked to the stock theft, through his lawyer Ms Martha Mazango of R Ndlovu and Company, then approached the Bulawayo High Court.
He filed an urgent chamber application seeking an order directing the release of his car, citing the State as a respondent.
Justice Maxwell Takuva ordered police to release the car saying their actions were unreasonable and unfair.
“The respondent’s decision to impound the applicant’s motor vehicle, a Toyota Quantum registration number FB10CZGP at the Bulawayo Central Police Station is hereby declared unreasonable and unfair and is set aside,” ruled Justice Takuva.
In his founding affidavit, Mr Tshabalala argued that impounding the vehicle was not relevant to the stock theft case against Mdlongwa and Maseko.
He said the refusal by police to release the car was prejudicing him and causing irreparable harm.
“I am aware that police officers have since ascertained that the vehicle is not a stolen vehicle in South Africa. Upon seeking the release of the vehicle, I was advised that it was impounded as an exhibit for the criminal trial of Mdlongwa and Maseko. I have on several occasions attended court hearings for the stocktheft charges with the hope that the matter would be finalised soon so that I get my car back but to no avail,” he said.
Mr Tshabalala said the delay in releasing his car was affecting his cross-border business.
The vehicle is in the country on a temporary import permit which expires in less than two weeks after which the owner is liable for duty payment.
“However, on March 26, 2019, upon following up on the matter, I discovered that the two accused persons had been placed off remand because the State is failing to secure the attendance of witnesses.
I bought the vehicle on credit and I am paying for it in instalments from the money realised from the cross-border business. I have a clear right to the car and entitled to it and there is no justification for police to refuse to release it,” he said.
The vehicle was impounded on November 4 last year after police received a tip off and subsequently laid an ambush near Ntabazinduna Tollgate along the Bulawayo-Harare road.
On searching the car, they recovered a full carcass of a beast stashed inside the vehicle and concealed in a plastic bag. Mdlongwa and Maseko failed to produce a police clearance permit and other relevant documents leading to their arrest. The Chronicle