By Mashudu Netsianda
Three Gwanda-based game scouts who allegedly beat a poacher to death and dumped his body in a dam in West Nicholson, have approached the High Court re-applying for bail pending trial.
Phumulani Sibanda (25) of Filabusi, Crispen Ndlovu (41) of Filabusi and Sunday Moyo (47) of Mwenezi are each facing a murder charge in connection with the death of Mr Peter Mpofu (56) of Mwenezi. They once applied for bail pending trial under case HCB82/19 which was rejected by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese.
The trio, which is employed at Bubiana Conservancy Ranch in West Nicholson, ambushed Mpofu together with his two colleagues while they were poaching fish at a dam at the ranch. They fatally assaulted Mr Mpofu and threw his body into a dam to conceal the offence. Mr Mpofu’s colleagues escaped.
Sibanda, Ndlovu and Moyo through their lawyers GN Mlotshwa and Company Titan Law, filed an application for bail at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent. They now wish to reapply for bail on the basis of changed circumstances.
In their bail statements, the three accused persons are denying the charge, arguing they were framed by some illegal settlers involved in poaching activities. They said at the time of the bail hearing, police were still carrying out investigations on the matter.
“However, it is now 18 months since the offence was allegedly committed and police have finalised the investigations, which in itself is a change in circumstances justifying reconsideration of the bail application,” said the applicants.
They argued that investigations included obtaining a full and comprehensive post-mortem report which concluded that the cause of Mpofu’s death was not ascertained.
According to the post-mortem report compiled by Dr Sanganai Pesanai, the cause of death could not be ascertained due to advanced decomposition.
“The pathologist did not observe any injury. Assuming that indeed the applicants assaulted the deceased as alleged by the State, its case is seriously weakened by the post-mortem report. In the absence of the cause of death at worst the State may only be able to prove attempted murder,” argued the applicants’ lawyers.
They said the post-mortem report amounts to a serious change of circumstances warranting a reconsideration of bail for applicants. The Chronicle.