A VEGETABLE vendor from Bulawayo who stole a car at an accident scene and used it as a pirate taxi for more than two weeks has been sentenced to five years in prison.
Sindiso Mlotshwa (41) ran out of luck when he was arrested after being involved in an accident in Masvingo last Friday.
The court heard that Mlotshwa took advantage of commotion that broke out after Takesure Chitsungo — who was driving a Honda Fit vehicle — allegedly negligently caused an accident with Ms Relisha Gumamhere along Jason Moyo Street between 4th and 5th Avenues in Bulawayo.
All hell broke loose when a mob gathered and grabbed Chitsungo. The mob was allegedly dissuaded from meting out instant justice and instead dragged him to Bulawayo Central Police Station.
Mlotshwa allegedly got into the Honda Fit and drove off, unseen.
When police returned to the scene with Chitsungo, they searched high and low for his vehicle but no one knew where it had vanished to.
Mlotshwa yesterday pleaded guilty to theft of a motor vehicle before Bulawayo regional magistrate Mr Crispen Mberewere. He said he was sorry for what he did.
“The money I was getting from selling fruits and vegetables was not enough that is why I stole the car to use as a pirate taxi. I wanted to earn a living for my three children and I apologise for my actions,” he said.
Mr Mberewere said Mlotshwa’s actions traumatised Chitsungo as he had already been attacked by the mob after the accident.
“What you did was stupid. A car is not like a handkerchief that you can take and hide in a pocket. What you did traumatised the complainant more as he had been involved in an accident and been harassed by the mob who dragged him to the police station. However, the court also considers that the car was found and that your actions were not premeditated as you just took advantage of the situation,” he said.
The magistrate sentenced him to five years in prison and suspended two years on condition that he does not repeat a similar offence in the next five years.
He will serve an effective three years behind bars.
For the State, Mr Simbarashe Manyiwa said Mlotshwa stole the car on May 3 at around 4.30AM along Jason Moyo Street between 4th and 5th Avenues.
“Mr Chitsungo was involved in an accident and after the accident, a commotion ensued and he was dragged out of the car by members of the public who took him to Bulawayo Central Police Station,” he said.
The prosecutor said Chitsungo left his car unattended with keys in the ignition, as well as his Samsung cell-phone. Mlotshwa who was in the vicinity, Mr Manyiwa said, took advantage, got into the car and drove away unnoticed.
“Police officers proceeded to the scene accompanied by both parties to attend to the accident but could not find Mr Chitsungo’s vehicle hence a police report was made,” he said.
The value of the stolen property was $4 020.