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Bail for three members of 12 machete-wielding gang challenged

By Mashudu Netsianda

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) has filed papers opposing the application for bail for three of the 12 machete-wielding illegal gold panners who allegedly raided the home of a 75-year-old Nkayi businesswoman while she was sleeping with her family.

Suspected machete gang members form a human chain while being led into a holding cell at Mazowe Police Camp. On the right are machetes that were recovered at Jumbo Mine. — Pictures: Innocent Makawa
Suspected machete gang members form a human chain while being led into a holding cell at Mazowe Police Camp. On the right are machetes that were recovered at Jumbo Mine. — Pictures: Innocent Makawa

Stanford Tshuma (25), Lucky Chininga (23), Bathabile Moyo (21), Ayanda Sibanda (44), Gift Mukuza (24), Venson Moyo (29), Mthabisi Moyo (25), Hezekia Ncube (31), Mehluli Ncube (32), Nkululeko Moyo (25), Mimi Mpofu (20) and Ntabiso Mthethwa (20) all from Belmont area in Nkayi allegedly broke into Ms Besie Khumalo’s home on the night of January 17 armed with machetes and axes.

They, however, went away empty handed after the victim screamed prompting her neighbours to come to her rescue. They were arrested following an identification parade. The accused persons are facing charges of unlawful entry into premises in aggravating circumstances.

The 12 men, through their lawyers Mashayamombe and Company Attorneys, last week filed an application for bail pending trial at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.

In his opposing papers, Mr Kudakwashe Jaravaza, who is representing the State, did not oppose the granting of bail for the applicants save for Tshuma, Chininga and Sibanda.

He argued that the three were positively identified by the complainant hence if released on bail, they were likely to abscond given the magnitude of the offence.

“In casu, it’s clear that only three applicants were identified by the complainant and other witnesses whereas there is absolutely no evidence linking the rest of the applicants to the offence. The State believes that it has a strong prima facie case against Tshuma, Chininga and Sibanda,” said Mr Jaravaza.

“I am of the view that the State case regarding the three is quite clear and if released on bail, there is a likelihood of abscondment. Wherefore, the State prays that bail succeeds in respect of the other applicants and be denied in respect of Tshuma, Chininga and Sibanda.”

According to court papers, it was stated that on January 17 at around 2.55AM, the 12 accused persons went to Ms Khumalo’s home armed with machetes and axes.

Upon arrival, they allegedly struck the main kitchen door using an axe and damaged burglar bars to gain entry into the house. Three of the accused persons entered the complainant’s bedroom carrying machetes and axes while the other eight remained outside.

The complainant heard the noise and she woke up screaming, prompting her neighbours to wake up. The neighbours and some of the complainant’s family members teamed up and confronted the accused persons and they fled the scene after realising that they had been outnumbered.

The accused persons were arrested on the same day following a police report. The complainant managed to positively identify the accused persons during an identification parade.

In their bail application, the accused persons are denying the charges and argued that the alleged machetes and axes were not found. They said the State case is weak.

The accused persons also dismissed the investigating officer’s assertion that they were likely to abscond if released on bail. They further argued that there were no compelling reasons warranting their continued detention.

The accused persons offered to pay $200 bail each and to report once a week at Nkayi Police Station as well as not interfering with State witnesses as part of the bail condition.

They also offered to reside at their given addresses until the matter is finalised.

Lately, gangs armed with machetes have been terrorising people across the country prompting police to issue orders prohibiting the carrying of dangerous weapons in the gold mining areas. The Chronicle

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