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Jailed armed robber cop seeks bail

A police officer who was sentenced to 60 years in jail for armed robbery with five other assailants has approached the Bulawayo High Court seeking bail pending appeal against his conviction and sentence.

Isaac Kawundura (33) and his accomplices were convicted and sentenced by a Gweru magistrate for a series of armed robbery cases they committed at Camlark Mine in Gweru.

They were armed with three rifles and four pistols before they proceeded to the mine where they robbed the owners of their gold, cash and other valuables.

The six were convicted on six counts of armed robbery, one at which they fired shots, killing a security guard`s dog in the process.

Kawundura, Thulani Nkala (another police officer), Taurai Matarirano (27), George Chikomberanwa (34) and Dunira Hungwe (33) all appeared before Gweru Regional Magistrate Phathekile Msipa facing ten counts of armed robbery.

Magistrate Msipa acquitted them on four counts and sentenced each of them to sixty years for the remaining counts.

She suspended 10 years on condition of good behaviour for the next five years and suspended a further five years on condition that they restitute their robbery victims leaving them to serve an effective 45 years in prison. 

Through his legal practitioner Bruce Masamvu of Mutatu, Masamvu and Da Silva-Gustavo Law Chambers, Kawundura said his application held prospects of success against the steep conviction and sentence.

Masamvu said Kawundura was erroneously convicted based on uncorroborated evidence from one of the co-accused persons, citing the sentence induced a sense of shock and was manifestly excessive.

“The court a quo erred by making a finding that the silver recovered from the applicant belonged to the complainant when there was not corroborated evidence to that effect. In so sentencing the court a quo ought to have tempered justice with mercy and should have avoided sentencing the applicant to the imprisonment of a massive and extraordinarily elongated 60 years. It is against this background that the court a quo should not have imposed this excessive punishment,” said Masamvu. 

Masamvu argued that Kawundura is granted bail as throughout his trial he displayed no signs of absconding court.

“During investigations and during trial applicant was highly co-operative as such an inference of him failing to prosecute his appeal whilst on bail cannot be sustained in the circumstances. The applicant offers to pay $1 000 bail, report once a week at Nkulumane Police Station and surrender his passport as part of the bail conditions,” said the lawyer.

According to the State papers, when the six got to the mine, they met one of the security guards and identified themselves as police officers who wanted to search the premises for firearms.

They searched the security guards and took their cellphones and they stole property valued at US$1 700. They also stole Zhang Dawei`s Chinese passport and US$1 070 and $1 500 at his quarters and nothing was recovered. 

On the same day and at the same mine, they threatened another Chinese national Chen Yang Yang with firearms and took his cellphone, US$930, $330, R400 and 17 000 Chinese Yuan. 

They went to another employee, Jinkai Yu`s room and robbed him of US$900, $150 and 300 Chinese Yuan.

They further went to the manager’s quarters and threatened him with firearms before robbing him of US$1 200, $120 and 840 Chinese Yuan.

They then proceeded to the managing director`s room, ransacked the room looking for valuables and managed to get US$2 000, $5 000, 10 kilograms of silver which was stored in cone and bar shapes. They deflated tyres for two vehicles.

They stole an Isuzu king cab and drove away from the scene to a point near Old Eastlea and the cab was recovered.

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