The Sunday News
Tendai Bhebe, Sunday News Reporter
TWO police officers stationed at Fort Rixon in Insiza District, Matabeleland South who were recently arrested for stock theft and bribery have each been slapped with a 12-year jail sentence for the offence.
The two, Promise Chifodya (24) and Tapiwa Mandima (34) will, however, spend 11 years behind bars after six months were suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour. Again another six months were suspended on condition they restitute the complainant the sum of $400.
They pleaded guilty to the charges when they appeared before Esigodini magistrate Mr Tawanda Muchemwa on Wednesday facing two counts of stocktheft and bribery. They were represented by Nkosiyabo Sibanda from Tanaka Chambers
Presenting the State case, the prosecutor, Mr Acumen Khupe, told the court that Mahoni Nyanillisiwe Mtambo reported to the police at ZRP Fort Rixon that he had three stray cattle among his herd a cow, steer and a calf.
He said sometime in March 2018 the two who were deployed at PBS Police Base got to know of the existence of the three stray cattle at Mtambo’s house and they allegedly hatched a plan to steal them. The court further heard that in March on an unknown date the two approached Tracy Dube, operator of Yellow March Butchery at PBS Business Centre and told her they were selling some cattle at Mtambo’s homestead that she could buy if she was interested.
It was the State case that Mandima used his private car to transport Chifodya and Dube to village 6 where Mtambo lives. He said Chifodya and Mandima told Mtambo that they came to dispose of the found stock that was in his custody. He said the two convinced him that they were duly authorised to dispose the found stock and they had brought with them Dube who was the buyer.
After viewing the cattle, the court heard, the pair gave Mtambo the calf as payment for looking after the cattle. The two sold the ox to Dube for $350 which was received by Mandima from Dube in the presence of Chifodya.
The two later swapped the stray cow with Mtambo’s ox and Chifodya and Mandima then sold the ox to Dube for $200. The court further heard that Mandima completed a ZRP livestock clearance certificate Form 392 serial number 2537837 purporting that the stray cattle were claimed by owner Paulos Dlamini of Mbethe village in Mbembesi.
It was, however, discovered from Mr Hebert Majola who is the village head for Mbethe that Dlamini passed away five years ago and that there was no other person with that name in the village. The court also heard that in April Chifodya and Mandima got information that Bekithemba Mjoli was keeping a stray cow which he had not registered with the police and had transferred his herd including the stray one to Collen area in Fort Rixon.
Mr Khupe told the court that the two called Mjoli to PBS police base where they took turns to accuse him of stealing the stray cow. He said the police officers harassed him, handcuffed him and threatened to send him to jail for nine years for stealing the stray cow. In the process, the court was told Mandima demanded to be given money so that he could free Mjoli and he offered him $50 which Mandima refused saying it was too little. He demanded that the complaint should pay them with cattle so that they could drop the charges and Mjoli gave in and paid the two policemen with an ox.
It was the State case that after a week the two went to the complainant’s homestead in the company of Lois Dube whom they introduced to Mjoli as the buyer and demanded to be given an ox for sale. Mjoli gave them the ox and the policemen loaded it into Dube’s truck. The prosecutor told the court that the matter came to light following a tip-off to the police who investigated the case leading to the two’s arrest.