A WAR veteran, Dzingai Nevhunjere, has been jailed for six years after being convicted of a stock theft offence he committed 20 years ago during the chaotic fast track land reform programme.
The 64-year-old was nabbed with a herd of 16 cattle he had seized from Thomas Charles Bayley at his home in Mvurwi.
He had denied the accusations, but prosecutors proved that he committed the offence using his privilege as a war veteran during that time.
Nevhunjere was however lucky to escape the nine years mandatory sentence after Harare magistrate Victoria Mashamba took into consideration that he committed the offence when common law was still in place.
Prosecutors proved that Nevhunjere stole 16 cows from Bayley back in 2002.
Bayley was the owner of Danburry Park Farm in Marlborough, Harare.
The court heard Nevhunjere and some youths invaded the farm on April 13, 2002 and prevented Bayley from entering it.
They barricaded the entrance using poles and drums, and then forced Baylely’s family out of the farm, which had 977 cattle and 210 calves.
Nevhunjere took custody of all the cattle.
On April 5 and 7, 2002, Nevhunjere then drove 20 cattle to his Omeath Farm in Mvurwi.
Sixteen beasts were recovered from him on November 13, 2003, after Bayley identified them.
The court also heard that on several occasions, the war veteran would order his youths to slaughter cows for meat.
When Bayley was finally allowed to enter his farm on July 13, 2002, he collected 1 042 cattle, and discovered that 145 beasts were missing.
On February 5, 2005 police recovered six beasts from Nevhunjere.
In passing sentence the magistrate said she will also consider that Nevhunjere is now an old family man.
She also considered the circumstances around the commission of the offence.
She said the Nevhunjere was a first time offender as such deserved leniency.
“When the accused committed the offence, it was because he wanted to implement what he fought for (as a war veteran). But this did not go well because you end up taking someone’s cattle, ” said the magistrate.
The magistrate however ruled that his moral blameworthiness is high because he was a commander and took advantage of his authority by stealing and distorting the agrarian reform.
“You planned to steal because you sent the cattle to your farm in Mvurwi. You did not assist in recovery of the cattle. You tried to fight against the offence. You are luck that at the time it was not 9 years mandatory as this time. The court shall not impose those nine years mandatory but will use the common law,” Mashamba ruled.