By Tendai Rupapa
Five police officers, who were jailed for gouging a civilian’s right eye after assaulting him with batons, recently heaved a sigh of relief after the High Court quashed their 15-month sentences.
Livingstone Zvimba, Tendai Musungambira, Sunday Nyaude, Khululekani Dale and Evans Mashonganyika had appealed against both conviction and sentence after they were found guilty of assaulting a couple, Yvonne Magora and Washington Gezana, who lost his right eye in the process.
Magistrate, Mr Farai Gwitima had sentenced them to 18 months each behind bars before setting aside three months each on condition of good behaviour.
In their appeal at the High Court, the five argued that the trial court erred in concluding that they are the ones who assaulted the complaints when there were more than five Police Reaction Group (PRG) details at the scene.
Justice Joseph Musakwa sitting with Justice Philda Muzofa allowed the appeal and quashed the sentence.
“The evidence presented before the court a quo leaves a lot to be desired. Evidence led by the State was largely desultory. The real issue that the trial court overlooked was how many PRG officers converged at the intersection.
“. . . Therefore the trial court made an erroneous finding regarding who actually assaulted the complainants. The case was compounded by the fact that fellow police officers decided to shield the perpetrators of the assault. They preferred to see no evil in the whole process.
“The trial prosecutor made a mess of it by not seeking particulars that would have exposed the culprits. In the result, the conviction and sentence is hereby set aside.”
It was alleged that sometime in March 23, 2017 at around 8pm, the five cops were controlling traffic at the intersection of Kenneth Kaunda and Julius Nyerere Way.
They were clad in black riot uniform and helmets while wielding batons. One of the accused approached Magora and asked why she was standing at the intersection.
He slapped and called her a prostitute. This upset the husband, Gezana, prompting him to intervene. He asked the police why they were assaulting his wife and all the accused turned on him and assaulted him with batons. Gezana was struck with an unknown object on his right eye and he lost consciousness. The Herald