An inmate at Bulawayo Prison, who is serving a 24-month jail term has raised serious concerns over his incarceration as he alleges his friend framed him for a crime he never committed after the two had a serious misunderstanding.
This came to light last week when B-Metro visited Bulawayo Prison and had an opportunity to interview Aleti Sibanda (23) who is still trying to come to terms with his imprisonment.
“I was convicted sometime last month after my best friend, Perfect Mhlanga, was identified by some ladies in our neighbourhood, who were alleging that he had broken into their house and stolen two cell phones. The two ladies managed to identify Mhlanga as we were on our way to a nearby bar, where we intended to buy beer as we were drinking with other guys at my place,”he said.
Sibanda said the two ladies approached them over the issue. At first he thought it was a joke, but they insisted that Mhlanga had been seen breaking into their house, where he later managed to get away with two cell phones that were on the table.
“When the two ladies spotted Mhlanga as we were on our way to the bar they asked the two of us to get into their house and immediately they started demanding their cell phones they claimed to have been stolen.
“Mhlanga told the two ladies that he was not aware of the cell phones they were talking about as he argued that on the day in question we were together in Lobengula suburb,”he said.
Sibanda said he could not believe what was happening as immediately after the two ladies confronted their suspect two men came out of the house and apprehended Mhlanga who they later handed over to the police for the issue to be finalised.
“As I was still trying to understand the drama that was unfolding before my eyes I heard Mhlanga telling the two ladies that on the day in question we were together in Lobengula suburb and as a way of clearing my name from this issue I told them it had been long since we last spent some time together with this friend of mine.
“After having said those words two men came out of the house and apprehended Mhlanga as they argued that police were the best people to conclude this matter as he was not telling the truth from the word go,”he said.
Sibanda said the issue of theft did not go down well with him and this later forced him to assault Mhlanga as they were on their way to Luveve police station, where they wanted the issue to be solved.
“I tried to talk to Mhlanga about the issue as we were going to Luveve police station, but he never gave me convincing answers over the issue and this made me angry such that I ended up losing my temper.
“I slapped him several times as I wanted the truth out of him, but I could not get anything from him as I always treat him like a brother and we used to share a lot,”he said.
Sibanda said when they got to Luveve Police Station Mhlanga was detained as the police officers were investigating the issue before it could be taken to court for trial and finalisation.
“We left Mhlanga in the custody of the police and to my surprise the next morning police officers came to my place and searched my room looking for the two cell phones they never found.
“Soon after the search they told my mother that I was supposed to report at Luveve police station to clear my name in connection with this issue and the next morning I reported to the police and the tables had turned as Mhlanga had told the police officers that the stolen cell phones were with me,”he said.
Sibanda said the case was heard before the court and from the court proceedings the two were now being charged jointly for having stolen the mobile phones.
“I told the magistrate that she was sentencing me for a crime that I never committed and she went on to sentence me to 24 months in prison.
“Soon after the sentencing Mhlanga told me that he was advised to go down with me as I had failed to defend him, when I was asked his location on the day in question,”he said.
Sibanda said up to now he still wants to understand the reason of his conviction considering that Mhlanga was now clearing him from the case that had landed them in prison.
“I am happy to tell you that my co accused is here and you can as well talk to him about this issue but the truth is I am in prison for a crime I didn’t commit and I hope the responsible authorities will want to understand more about what really happened for me to be where I am,”he said.
Mhlanga told B-Metro that he was told by one of his brothers to implicate Sibanda as he had not backed his alibi.
“I was left with little or no option, but to implicate Sibanda in this matter and police officers forced me to admit having committed this crime as they assaulted me before we went into court,” he said.