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Prosecutor-General appeals against bail for Bulawayo drug lords

By Mashudu Netsianda

The Prosecutor-General Mr Kumbirai Hodzi, has approached the High Court challenging the granting of bail pending trial to two Bulawayo men allegedly running a drug cartel that sold dagga and other dangerous substances.

Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi
Prosecutor-General Kumbirai Hodzi

Arkinmon Sarishongwa (41) and Blessing Muchenje (27) were arrested during a raid at their residential flat in Bulawayo’s Central Business District leading to the recovery of mbanje, “broncho”, sex enhancing pills all worth more than RTGS$10 000 and varying amounts of money in both local and foreign currency.

The flat was targeted after residents living nearby complained that the area was being turned into a haven for crime. Police units including CID Drugs and the Canine Unit pounced on the flat and recovered substantial quantities of mbanje and other drugs.

Sarishongwa and Muchenje residing at Eaglesham Flat situated at the corner of Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street and 1st Avenue were last week released on RTGS$1 000 bail each by appeared Bulawayo magistrate, Mr Franklin Mkhwananzi.

They are facing charges of illegal possession of dagga and unregistered medicines in violation of the Medicine and Allied Substances Control Act.

The PG filed an appeal against the granting of bail by a magistrate in terms of section 121 (1) (a) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, citing Sarishongwa and Muchenje as respondents.

He wants the High Court to revoke the respondents’ bail.

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In his grounds of appeal, Mr Hodzi argued that the lower court erred in its findings that the quantity of the dagga was not a ground to deny respondents bail.

“The court a quo erred when it dismissed the strength of the State case against respondents as a ground to deny bail. The court a quo erred when it made a finding that a single conviction does not amount to propensity to commit similar offences,” argued Mr Hodzi.

“On the contrary, it is submitted that the quantity of dagga (10,4kg) is a very important factor in determining whether or not to grant bail. It is submitted that the granting of bail to accused persons found in possession of such a large quantity of dagga will undermine the public confidence in the criminal justice system.”

He said the magistrate failed to take into account the strength of the case for prosecution, arguing that the State case was strong, a factor which can induce the accused persons to abscond.

“The court a quo erred when it trivialised the first respondent’s previous conviction as not constituting a compelling reason to deny bail. It is clear that the first respondent (Sarishongwa) is not repentant at all since he has committed a similar offence when the period of suspension for the previous offence has not lapsed. The first respondent has a propensity to commit similar offences and as such is not a proper candidate for bail and prays that the respondents’ bail is revoked,” argued Mr Hodzi.

According to court papers, on June 11 this year, acting on a tip off, police went to Eaglesham Flat armed with a search warrant.

When police arrived at the flat, they knocked on the door and identified themselves before ordering the accused persons to open but they did not comply.

The police officers then force-opened the door and found Sarishongwa and Muchenje seated in a room where there was loose and prepared dagga in plastic bags.

Police also recovered US$801, Pula 3 820, R50 and RTGS$21 and the money was realised from drug dealings.

A further search led to the recovery of 58 bottles of Bron Cleer cough syrup, 61 bottles of Alcophyllex cough syrup, packets of Diazepam tablets and sex enhancing pills branded Sildenafil all valued at $1 312.The Chronicle