TWO soldiers allegedly ganged up with three accomplices and robbed a businessman from Inyathi of US$450 and a truck at gunpoint before they kidnapped him.
Bekithemba Sibanda ganged up with Nqobani Sibanda and Clenius Sitimela, who are both members of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) stationed at Imbizo Barracks, and drove to Inyathi. Nqobani and Sitimela were clad in military regalia and armed with their AK47 service rifles. Upon arrival the three men teamed up with Tatenda Manokore and Morgan Moyo and proceeded to the complainant’s home at night and violently banged his door demanding him to open the door amid threats.
They broke the door to gain entry and demanded cash at gunpoint before they took US$450 and his truck, a Nissan Atlas. They then kidnapped the complainant and forced him into the truck and drove with him for several kilometres before dumping him.
This emerged when the five men filed an application for bail pending trial at the Bulawayo High Court, through their lawyers Mutatu, Masamvu and Da Silva-Gustavo Legal Practitioners.In papers before the court, the State was cited as a respondent.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva dismissed their application, saying the State has a strong prima facie case against the accused persons.
“I take the view that the purpose of the applicants’ trip to Inyathi was to rob the complainant. In view of that, I find that the State has a strong prima facie case against the applicants,” he said.
Justice Takuva said the five men are facing a serious offence likely to attract lengthy prison terms upon conviction hence if released on bail, they were likely to abscond.
“In any event, all the applicants admit being at the scene of the crime where they interacted with the complainant. In such cases, it is not for the State to show compelling reasons, it is for the applicants to discharge the onus by adducing evidence showing that it is in the interest of justice that they be granted bail,” he said.
“On the available evidence applicants have failed to discharge that onus. I find that they are not good candidates for bail and accordingly, the application for bail is dismissed.”
In their bail statement, the accused persons are denying the charges, arguing there is no evidence linking them to the alleged offence. They argued that they were good candidates for bail since they were of fixed abode and had no reason to abscond trial.
“It is submitted that there is no other good ground for opposing bail by the State. Given the applicants’ personal circumstances and weaknesses in the State case, applicants will stand trial and not likely to abscond,” said the applicants’ lawyers.
The State, which was represented by Ms Nokuthaba Ngwenya, opposed the application, arguing that it had a strong prima facie case against the applicants.
She said due to the gravity and seriousness of the offence, accused persons were a flight risk and likely to abscond if released on bail.
According to court papers, it was stated that on June 17 last year, Moyo notified Bekithemba that their gold ore was about to be processed at Doves Mill. Bekithemba then ganged up with Nqobani and Sitimela who were on patrol enforcing Covid-19 lockdown regulations. They drove to Inyathi using Sibanda’s car and upon arrival at around 11.30PM, they teamed up with Manokore and Moyo.
They went to Mr Moyo’s home and banged on the door ordering him to open the door as they threatened to shoot him. The complainant phoned his brother one Khulani Moyo who in turn made a report to the police.
The accused persons broke the door to the lounge and entered the house before proceeding to the bedroom where Mr Moyo was hiding with his family. They demanded cash and his truck’s keys.
Fearing for his life and that of his family, Mr Moyo handed the accused persons the car keys and US$450.
They kidnapped Mr Moyo, bundled him into the back of his truck and drove along Bulawayo-Nkayi road. A team comprising military police and police officers was dispatched and they followed the truck and opened fire at the accused persons resulting in one of them being shot in the leg as he fled into the bush.
The accused persons were arrested the following day and Sitimela was found in possession of US$42, R20, $110 and an AK47 rifle with 80 rounds of ammunition.-@mashnets