A ZIMBABWEAN truck driver who is being accused of armed robbery has been languishing in a Livingstone prison in Zambia for the past seven months under unclear circumstances.
Qubekani Dube, 44, from Pumula East in Bulawayo, was arrested on January 12 and was charged with robbing Inter Africa Bureau de Change in Kazungula of $17,000 on December 31 last year.
Dube denies the charge claiming that at the time of the alleged offence he was in the Democratic Republic of Congo on work-related business.
Although his case has been set for trial at least four times since his arrest, it has failed to take off after either the prosecutor or the complainant failed to pitch up in court.
There are allegations that the Zambian prosecutors were deliberately delaying the case as they want him to cough up a $2,000 bribe to secure his freedom. The allegations have however not been substantiated.
Hermis Transport Congo, the company Dube works for, says it has even sent proof to Zambian authorities showing that their employee was in the DRC at the time of the alleged offence, all to no avail.
Dube has also written letters to media houses in Zambia and international human rights groups stating his case and appealing for assistance.
Dube's mother, Lucy Dube, 73, said the family is now at a loss as to how to deal with the case after they failed to raise the $2,000 bribe.
"As you can see from the letters, he left Zambia for DRC on December 12 and was arrested on 12 January when he eventually returned. The Zambian police have all the evidence to show he is innocent but they do not want to release him," said Dube.
She said the family could not meet the demands for $2,000 or K10 000 from the prosecutor (name withheld).
"No one has money. The children are no longer going to school. We have no money to travel to Zambia every time they say the trial is on. We can hardly feed ourselves. I don't know which office I can approach to secure freedom for my innocent son," she said.
In a letter addressed to the Ministry of Home Affairs in Zimbabwe, Dube said he was innocent but was being held to ransom by unscrupulous court officials.
"Honourable Minister, when all this happened I was not in Zambia. I was in another country at work. My company has been writing letters and has provided the Zambian police with proof that I was indeed in Congo when all this happened," wrote Dube.
"The company has even engaged a lawyer for me but the lawyer has been on behalf of the public prosecutor demanding K10,000 from my wife in Zimbabwe so that they can dispose of the case, when they know I am innocent."
Fellow truck drivers who say they were with Dube when the crime was committed said their colleague is literally rotting in prison.
"They do not give him food. He relies on hand-outs from truck drivers who pass through Livingstone. Sometimes, he goes for days without food when there is no truck coming into Zambia," said a driver who declined to be named.
The Zimbabwean embassy in Lusaka could not be reached for comment.