Armed robber escapes from Magistrates' courts
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A convicted armed robber escaped at the Mutare Magistrates' Courts on Tuesday after being escorted by a prison officer outside the courtroom to "give his brother money".
Langson Martin has since appeared at the same courts facing charges of criminal abuse of duty after Trymore Mike Gata fled and jumped into a parked Toyota Mark II sedan.
Martin was supposed to escort the robber into the holding cells soon after he was convicted by regional magistrate, Mr Livingstone Chipadze.
Instead, he allegedly led him out of the courtroom.
He faces an alternative charge of conspiring to escape from lawful custody.
Gata, together with his accomplice Ernest Kariwo, had been found guilty of armed robbery after a full trial that had been running since December 2010.
Prosecutor Mr Nelson Makunyire is arguing that Martin failed to discharge his duties properly, resulting in the robberâ€™s escape.
Magistrate Mrs Yeukai Chigodora granted Martin US$50 bail, with the trial expected to start next week.
Mr Makunyire said had Martin done his job professionally, the armed robber could not have escaped.
â€œInstead of escorting Gata to the curt cells, Martin escorted him out of the courtroom,â€ said Mr Makunyire.
â€œHe permitted Gata to go and give his brother some money outside the court contrary to his mandate of escorting him into the cells.â€
The State would also lead evidence from one Constable Kapinde and Gataâ€™s defence counsel Mr Victor Chinzamba of Mugadza and Chinzamba Legal Practitioners, as key witnesses
Cst Kapinde saw Martin escorting Gata out of the courtroom while Mr Chinzamba heard the conversation between Martin and Gata.
The prosecutor further blamed Martin for Gataâ€™s escape saying when he started running away, the prison officer who was equipped with a whistle never raised alarm nor shouted for help.
The escape, it is alleged, was also witnessed by two other men â€” Happiness Mawoyo and Arnold Chiwara â€” who were at the gate when Gata bolted past them.
The drama started when Mr Chinzamba applied for the court to stand down for a while for him to hear his clientâ€™s mitigation before the sentencing.
Gata escaped as the court adjourned.
Those privy to the case said Gata tricked the prison guard after he lied to him that he wanted to pass a US$5 note and his cellphone to his young brother who was seated in the gallery.
Gata suddenly bolted and jumped into a Toyota Mark II getaway car that was parked just outside the entrance.
When the court resumed in the afternoon after the drama, Mr Chinzamba disowned his clients saying that he was no longer capable of representing them for professional reasons.
He said he was amazed by the behaviour taken by Gata of undermining the court.
Mr Chipadze proceeded to sentence the duo despite the fact that Gata had escaped.
He slapped them with seven years in jail each but set aside two years on condition that they will not rob again in the next five years.
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