SIX men from Bulawayo have been arrested for allegedly setting alight a bus hired by MDC Alliance supporters from Gweru at White City Stadium on Saturday, destroying property worth $2 500.
Clifford Sibanda (30), Dumisani Moyo (39), Bongani Phiri (28), Thandolwenkosi Moyo (24), Tatenda Nyandoro (35) and Darlington Siziba (27) all from Mzilikazi suburb allegedly connived to burn a T and H bus which was hired to ferry MDC Alliance supporters from Gweru while the bus driver, Mr Lameck Kusosa was on board.
Two of the six accused persons allegedly poured petrol on the rear side of the bus before they set it alight.
The other four members were allegedly waiting for their accomplices in a get-away car.
The fire partially burnt two curtains and the rear left side of the bus was damaged and covered with smoke.
The six appeared before Western Commonage magistrate Mr Lungile Ncube yesterday facing public violence and malicious damage to property charges.
They pleaded not guilty to both charges and were remanded in custody to April 23 for trial.
Prosecuting, Mrs Memory Ndlovu said on Saturday, Mr Kusosa parked the bus along Hyde Park Road opposite Mabutweni Police Station.
“He was seated in the bus waiting to ferry MDC Alliance supporters to Gweru who were attending the MDC Alliance rally at White City Stadium. He observed one male adult pouring a liquid substance on the body of the bus and some liquid splashed into the bus through the rear left window which was open,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
“Immediately the bus driver saw fire sparking on the body of the bus at the same position where the liquid had been poured. He went out to investigate and he saw that the bus was on fire. Kusosa used soil to put out the fire. He then saw two male adults running away from the scene and they left behind a 5-litre container with some petrol.”
Mrs Ndlovu said the two men jumped into a Honda Fit in which there were four other passengers and the car immediately sped off.
The court also heard that some motorists who were close by and saw the incident gave chase and blocked the Honda Fit, leading to the arrest of the accused persons.
Meanwhile, a suspected MDC Alliance supporter from Harare was sentenced to an effective nine months in prison for stealing property and cash with a combined value of $556 at the White City Stadium rally.
Godwin Muchechete (44) from Highfield, Harare, forced open Mrs Fungai Tangara’s locked car with a screw driver and stole $166, R1 300, two cellphones, a handbag and a pair of boxer shorts.
Muchechete said he stole from the car because he did not have money to return to Harare since his wallet was stolen while he was on one of the buses with other party members.
“I came for the rally but I had no money to return home because someone stole my wallet while we were on the bus on our way to the rally,” he said.
He pleaded guilty to theft from a motor vehicle charges when he appeared before Mr Ncube yesterday.
Mr Ncube found him guilty and sentenced him to 12 months in prison of which three were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
In passing sentence Mr Ncube told Muchechete that he was free to attend any rally he wished to as long as he respected other people’s property.
“Losing your wallet does not give you the licence to steal. You lost your wallet in the morning so you had ample time to ask for money from your colleagues since you came as a district,” he said.
The magistrate also questioned Muchechete’s main reason for travelling with a screw driver among his belongings.
Prosecuting, Mrs Memory Ndlovu said on Saturday at around 10AM Mrs Tangara parked her car outside the stadium.
“Muchechete went to Mrs Tangara’s car and forced open a locked door with a screw driver and gained entry into the vehicle,” said Mrs Ndlovu
“He stole $166, R1300, a handbag, two cellphones and a boxer short. He was caught in the act by detectives who were on surveillance.”
All the stolen property was recovered.