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Evidence-swallowing cop loses appeal

By Mashudu Netsianda

The High Court has dismissed an appeal against conviction by a traffic policeman who under-receipted a fine paid by a tourist and later swallowed the doctored traffic ticket to conceal the evidence after he was cornered over the offence.

File picture of a police roadblock in Zimbabwe
File picture of a police roadblock in Zimbabwe

Const Ncube (29) of ZRP of Kamativi Camp was convicted of fraud and fined $300 or 30 days imprisonment by Hwange magistrate, Ms Rose Dube, after he waved down motorist, Mr Soren Lindstrom, at Cross Mabale on March 13 in 2017 and ordered him to pay a fine for driving a car without lock nuts.

Aggrieved by his conviction, Const Ncube through his lawyers Mvhiringi and Associates, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the decision of the magistrate, citing the State as a respondent.

Justice Nokuthula Moyo, who was sitting with Justice Thompson Mabhikwa during criminal appeals at the Bulawayo High Court, dismissed the application.

“We are satisfied that the guilt of the appellant (Const Ncube) was proved reasonable doubt by the State. The appeal therefore fails and accordingly, it is dismissed,” ruled Justice Moyo.

In his grounds of appeal, Const Ncube said the lower court erred by concluding that the complainant had been given a duplicate receipt which was endorsed with US$40, arguing that the complainant admitted in court that he had signed a receipt endorsed with US$10.

“No explanation was given in court as to how the complainant would agree to pay US$40 after signing the ticket for US$10.

The court erred by not finding that, if the top copy of the receipt which was signed by complainant had US$10, then there was no misrepresentation by appellant to complainant hence I should not have been found guilty of the offence of fraud,” he argued.

Const Ncube also said there was misdirection by the magistrate when she failed to take into consideration the fact that there was bad blood between him and one of the State witnesses.

“The court a quo was misdirected by concluding that there was a ticket that had been endorsed with US$40 when no such ticket was tendered in court and the inference that I swallowed the ticket with a written fine of US$40 was not proved in court,” said Const Ncube.

The State, which was represented by Mr Trust Muduma, opposed the appeal, saying the State managed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.

“It is submitted that the court a quo did not err in convicting the appellant. The evidence of the State witness was straight to the point.

It is further submitted that the appellant was a very bad defence witness who also tried to mislead the court by suggesting that one of the witnesses, Joel Kasunungure, could have colluded with Patrick Tsaurai in order to nail him,” said Mr Muduma.

According to court papers, on March 13 in 2017, Const Ncube, together with his six accomplices, were deployed at Cross Mabale along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls Road for traffic enforcement duties.

Const Ncube arrested Mr Lindstrom, a tourist at Hwange National Park Lodge, who was driving a Toyota Land Cruiser with Botswana number plates, whom he charged for having no lock nuts.

Mr Lindstrom complied and Const Ncube receipted US$40 on the duplicate copy of the ticket he gave to the motorist, while the top copy indicated US$10. Mr Lindstrom was later tipped by an official at the lodge that the fine of US$40 was illegal.

He drove back to the roadblock and confronted Const Ncube, who in turn asked for the copy of receipt he gave him before he chewed it to destroy the evidence. A report was made to the police leading to Const Ncube’s arrest. The Chronicle