TWO police officers stationed at Entumbane Police Station have been arrested for allegedly stealing two gas tanks and several cellphones which were part of the goods looted during the recent violent protests in Bulawayo.
Thulani Nyathi (33) of Lobengula West and Victor Peter Munondo (28) of Entumbane suburb yesterday appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Ms Sithembiso Ncube facing theft charges. They were remanded in custody to today for bail ruling.
Allegations are that a report was made at Entumbane Police Station indicating that there were looted goods that had been hidden in a broken down car at Entumbane Bus Terminus.
Two police officers who were initially sent to investigate came back empty handed.
Nyathi and Munondo then allegedly went to the Bus Terminus and arm-twisted a security guard manning the premises into showing them where the goods were hidden under the pretext that they were sent by their superiors to recover the loot.
They then took the looted goods, but did not surrender the loot at Entumbane Police Station.
Prosecuting, Mr Alfonce Makonese said on January 25 at around 8AM, police received a tip off that stolen goods looted during protests were hidden in a broken down vehicle at a car park at Entumbane Bus Terminus.
The Entumbane Police Station Officer-in-Charge, only identified as Chief Inspector Mpofu, then assigned his juniors to investigate.
“On January 26 at around 10AM, one Assistant Inspector Nkomo and a Constable Mavunga proceeded to Entumbane Bus Terminus. Upon arrival they failed to locate anyone and returned empty handed,” said Mr Makonese.
On the same day at around 6PM, Nyathi and Munondo went to Entumbane Bus Terminus and found a security guard manning the parking area.
“On arrival at Entumbane Bus Terminus’ car park, the accused persons introduced themselves to the security guard as Detective Constables Maveya and Moyo.
They lied to him that they had been sent by their superiors to collect the stolen goods. They searched a broken down vehicle at the car park and recovered two 5kg gas tanks, eight cellphones and six bottles of battery water,” said Mr Makonese.
They then endorsed their falsified names in the car park occurrence book on entry number 68/29.
The two allegedly lied to the security guard that they were taking the loot to Entumbane Police Station.
The court heard that the two cops did not surrender the stolen goods at the police station.
“On the same day at around 10PM, Assistant Inspector Nkomo later sent Constables Ndava and Chakabveyo to revisit the bus terminus and they found the same security guard who showed them the occurrence book depicting that goods had already been collected by the accused persons,” said Mr Makonese.
Investigations were conducted and the security guard managed to positively identify the accused persons in a parade leading to their arrest and subsequent recovery of the stolen loot.
Nyathi and Munondo, who are both self-actors, yesterday applied for bail pending trial. They argued that if granted bail they would not abscond, saying they were family men of fixed abode.
The State opposed bail, saying there was no guarantee that if granted bail the two men would not abscond. The investigating officer, Det Asst Insp Thomas Zimunhu, said the accused persons’ arrest was linked to the violent protests as they were found in possession of stolen goods hence if granted bail they were likely to abscond.
“It is in the interest of justice that accused persons should be remanded in custody until investigations are complete. If released on bail, there are fears that they might interfere with State witnesses, some of which are fellow police officers,” he said.
Det Asst Insp Zimunhu said the suspect who looted the stolen items is on the run and also known to Nyathi.