TWO police officers in Bulawayo accused of stealing gas tanks and several cellphones that were part of looted goods during last month’s shutdown protests successfully applied for the recusal of magistrate Sithembiso Ncube arguing her independence was questionable.
The two police officers, Thulani Nyathi (33) and Victor Peter Munondo (28) stationed at Entumbane Police Station managed to file the recusal Thursday through their lawyer Sisasenkosi Sihwa from Dube – Banda Nzirayapenga and Partners.
They argued they were unlikely to receive a fair hearing from Ncube as she had previously denied them bail.
“Your worship section 61.1 of the constitution guarantees accused persons a fair hearing. However, the accused persons feel that they will not receive a fair hearing from the presiding magistrate after she denied them bail,” said Sihwa.
Ncube denied the two police officers bail last week citing that they were likely to abscond if released from custody.
The magistrate granted the application and referred the accused to court five where their case is to be handled by a new magistrate.
Allegations by the state are that a report was made at Entumbane Police Station over looted goods that were stuffed inside a broken down car at Entumbane bus terminus.
Two police officers who were initially sent to investigate came back empty-handed.
Nyathi and Munondo then allegedly went to the bus terminus and reportedly asked security guard manning the premises to be shown where the goods were hidden under the pretext that they were sent by their superiors to recover the loot.
The accused allegedly took the looted goods but did not surrender them at Entumbane Police Station.
“On arrival at Entumbane bus terminus car park, the accused persons introduced themselves to the security guard as Detective constables Maveya and Moyo. They lied to him that they had been sent by their superiors to collect the stolen goods. They searched a broken down vehicle at the car park and recovered two 5 kg gas tanks, eight cell phones and six bottles of battery water,” prosecutor Alfonce Makonese told the court.
Nyathi and Munondo then signed fake names in the car park occurrence book on entry number 68/29.
The court was told the two cops failed to surrender the stolen goods at the police station, as expected.