A PLUMTREE-based cop allegedly ganged up with two soldiers attached to the 5.3 Infantry Battalion in Kwekwe and fatally assaulted a villager suspected of stealing bags of beans and maize seed from his neighbour.
The incident occurred on Christmas Day last year in Chimanimani in Manicaland province where the accused persons were deployed to guard the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) mining operations.
This emerged when Lawrence Mutsatsa (35) of Nketa suburb in Bulawayo and stationed at the Criminal Investigations Department in Plumtree and Mpumelelo Ncube (30) of Bulawayo's Emakhandeni suburb and attached to the 5.3 Infantry Battalion in Kwekwe, approached the High Court seeking bail pending trial.
Mutsatsa and Ncube teamed up with Macdonald Sadombo (28) of Dangamvura suburb in Mutare and stationed at 5.3 Infantry Battalion in Kwekwe and allegedly assaulted Enock Mhere (35) after he allegedly tried to flee while being taken to a police base after indications.
The trio allegedly struck Mhere with logs all over the body and he succumbed to the injuries the following day. Mhere was accused of stealing bags of beans and maize seed from his neighbour, Ms Maria Hlelele. Mutsatsa, Ncube and Sadombo were arrested on December 26 last year and they are currently in detention at Chimanimani Remand Prison.
Mutsatsa and Ncube through their lawyers T Hara and Partners filed an application for bail pending trial at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.
In their bail statement, the two applicants are denying the murder charge, saying they did not participate in the killing of the deceased. They argued that they only intervened by restraining an angry mob from attacking Mhere.
Mutsatsa and Ncube also contended that the husband of the owner of the alleged stolen bags of beans and maize seed worsened the degree of Mhere's injuries by continuously attacking him after they had managed to disperse other villagers who were part of the mob.
"The applicants are being accused in this matter simply because Maria Hlelele and her husband have conspired to shift blame to them for fear of being arrested. The applicants are just mere suspects who are presumed innocent until proven guilty and whatever evidence has been lined up against them, it is yet to be tested during trial," argued Mutsatsa and Ncube's lawyers.
The two men said if granted bail they would not abscond given that they were family men who are gainfully employed and of fixed abode.
"The applicants have no intention of leaving the country and have no room to interfere with State witnesses who are not even known to them. There is no evidence against the applicants other than information contained in the request for remand form. The applicants pray that they be admitted to $100 bail each and continue to reside at their given addresses until the matter is finalised except only if redeployed as per their duties," said the applicants' lawyers.
The State has not yet responded to the application. According to court papers, on December 25 last year, Mutsatsa, Ncube and Sadombo who were manning ZCDC mining premises in Chimanimani were handed over Mhere by local villagers who accused him of stealing bags of beans and maize seed from Ms Hlelele's homestead. The three men arrested Mhere and ordered him to lead them to the scene of the alleged crime for indications.
The deceased tried to flee while being taken to a police base and the accused persons pursued him. They caught up with Mhere and allegedly indiscriminately attacked him using logs before they force-marched him to the police base where he died the following day.
A report was made to the police leading to the trio's arrest. The deceased was taken to Chipinge District Hospital mortuary for post mortem.