The Sunday News
Sindisiwe Sibanda, Sunday News Reporter
A MAN from Bulawayo’s Pumula East suburb has been jailed 36 months for illegal possession of a loaded assault rifle, which was stolen from the Zimbabwe Republic Police armory a few months ago.
Ame Mpala (35) appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya last week facing charges of illegal possession of a firearm.
Mpala was found guilty and sentenced to 36 months in prison, of which six months were suspended on condition that he does not commit a similar offence in the next five years.
Presenting the State’s case, the prosecutor, Mrs Memory Matare told the court that Mpala was found in possession of the weapon, while he was in a vehicle that was travelling from Zvishavane to Bulawayo.
“On 21 March 2019 and along the Bulawayo-Gwanda Road at the 22km peg Mpala was stopped at the roadblock, where he was searched and found in possession of an AK-47 rifle without a holder certification or a permit to prove that the weapon belongs to him,” Mrs Matare told the court.
She said Mpala was a passenger in a Toyota Wish when the police officers manning a roadblock conducted a spot check and discovered that he was carrying the AK-47 assault rifle.
“The vehicle was carrying three passengers and the rifle was found at the back seat of the car where Mpala was sitting,” said Mrs Matare.
While the car was being searched, Mpala tried to disembark from the vehicle leaving behind his satchel but an alert police officer spotted his uneasiness and ordered him to stay put in the car as they took a keen interest in him.
They searched his belongings and found the rifle in a black plastic bag leading to his arrest.
Further investigations linked the rifle to cases where some members of the police were arrested for removing firearms that are subject to a handover-takeover from the armoury to a backyard room at the Matabeleland North Provincial armoury in Bulawayo.
A number of police officers in Bulawayo and Matabeleland North have appeared in court in relation to such cases.