Two soldiers, Pirukai Jameson (32) and Mike Chiwanza (30), were arrested by police in Bulawayo last month after allegedly pretending to be police officers and raiding informal traders in the city centre.
One of the soldiers escaped the hand of the law by absconding before his trial was completed.
“Accused person number one (Pirukai Jameson) defaulted the trial and fled. We don’t have anything on his whereabouts at the present moment. For now we can’t carry on with the case until we find him, so it has been postponed,” said prosecutor Nathan Marime.
Leading to the duo’s arrest last month, both Jameson and Chiwanza who were in civilian clothing approached vendors that were selling their food stuffs near Chicken Inn along Leopold Takawira Avenue and started interrogating them on why and how they were selling their stuff there.
“Jameson asked me how much I was selling my Dragon drinks and I told him that they were $15. He then asked me why I was selling there. He asked to see my licence and medical examination report that was supposedly meant to qualify me to sell at that point,” said one of the vendors Henry Murwira.
When the trader failed to produce the required documents, the soldiers allegedly ordered him to pack all of his stuff that he was selling inside a white car claiming that they were going to Bulawayo Central police station.
“Before I could pack my stuff into the car, a fellow vendor called for airtime and I went to her stand. She asked me about the people I was talking to and I told her everything. Jameson and Chiwanza came to the woman and asked her to let me go as I was under arrest,” said Murwira.
However, the neighbouring vendor thought there was more to the “police officers” than meets the eye. She requested to be shown proof that they were really police officers.
The duo produced their ZNA identity cards proving they were not police officers. The two vendors pleaded with the soldiers to let them go.
“They left us and proceeded to another stand where they did the same, from asking about the Dragon energy drink price to ordering the vendor to pack his stuff in the car saying they were going to the ZRP Bulawayo Central. However, the vendor quickly asked for their identification,” said Murwira.
People had reportedly gathered at the scene because it had been revealed that they were soldiers masquerading as police officers.
The duo was instantly arrested at the scene after some vendors ran off to the ZRP Bulawayo Central to report their activities.
The duo was set to appear again before Bulawayo magistrate Shepherd Munjanja on 6 February but Jameson was already on the run.