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Two US$2,7m heist suspects denied bail

Two suspects in the US$2,7 million ZB Bank cash-in-transit heist case, Gerald Rutizira and Neverson Mwamuka, have been denied bail at the High Court after the court ruled that evidence linking them to the robbery was strong and chances of their conviction was almost certain which can induce them to flee.

Detectives escort the US$2,7 million Harare-Chirundu road robbery suspects into Harare Magistrates’ Court for their initial hearing yesterday. — Picture: Lee Maidza.
Detectives escort the US$2,7 million Harare-Chirundu road robbery suspects into Harare Magistrates’ Court for their initial hearing. — Picture: Lee Maidza.

The money was en-route for distribution to ZB Bank branches in Chinhoyi, Kadoma, Kwekwe, Gweru, Gwanda, Zvishavane and Bulawayo.

The duo is co-charged with alleged accomplices Kalvin Musakwa, Tendai Zuze and Trymore Chapfika.

They formally appeared at the magistrates’ courts for initial remand and were remanded in custody.

Consequent to their remand in custody, they petitioned the High Court for bail pending trial.

However, Justice Tawanda Chitapi ruled that the two were not suitable for bail, saying conviction was certain and that the presumption of innocence was not apparent in this case.

In denying Rutizira bail, the court found that he had no plausible defence and had tried to conceal the identity of the car which was used in the crime by repainting it.

“I am of the view that given the seriousness of the offence as shown by the brazen resolve to commit it and planning that went into it, taken together with the first applicant’s admission of involvement and gaining financially therefrom, the release of the first applicant on bail will undermine the objectives of both the criminal justice and bail systems,” said Justice Chitapi.

The court also found that Mwamuka was a flight risk given the circumstances of his arrest and the serious, uncontroverted allegations which were not challenged.

It was the court’s finding that Mwamuka’s arrest was not a coincidence, but part of a police operation.

“The second applicant is a demonstrated flight risk who was caught while in the process of leaving Harare,” said the judge.

Over US$456 000 has so far been recovered from the US$2,7 million that was stolen from the security company that was transporting the cash to Chinhoyi last month, along with cars that had been bought by the suspects.

Eleven suspects have been arrested in connection with the matter, and have appeared in court.

Meanwhile, the prosecution has been allowed to file its appeal against the High Court decision to grant bail to Tatenda Gadzikwa, believed to be the mastermind of heist.

The filing of the appeal was last week rejected on the basis that appeals were not covered under the Chief Justice’s Covid-19 national lockdown practice directive.

Since it was an appeal related to bail, the Supreme Court should have accepted the papers.

Gadzikwa was granted $50 000 bail coupled with stringent conditions. Aggrieved by the court’s decision, the prosecution approached the Supreme Court intending to file its appeal but hit a snag after its papers were rejected.

Under the Chief Justice’s practice directive, registries accept initial remands, urgent processes and applications plus bail applications.

The filing of new cases, processes, documents, pleadings and papers, remains suspended for up to March 1. The Herald.