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Police boss fails to quash stolen car case

by Staff reporter
16 Mar 2020 at 05:52hrs | Views
THE officer-in-charge of CID Gweru, Detective Inspector Leonard Gwandu, who is facing criminal abuse of office charges for allegedly releasing a stolen vehicle that was being held by the police as an exhibit has a case to answer, a Gweru Regional Court has ruled.

Gwandu has therefore been put to his defence. Last Friday, Gweru Regional Magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa dismissed Gwandu's application for discharge filed through his lawyer Mr Nomore Hlabano at the end of the State case.

The lawyer had argued that the State had failed to provide documentation from Interpol and Toyota South Africa to show that the vehicle which Gwandu released had allegedly been stolen and smuggled into the country.

Gwandu is facing charges of criminal abuse of office and he pleaded not guilty to the charge. He was remanded to March 23 on $1 000 bail.  

In dismissing Gwandu's application for discharge, Mrs Msipa said the court is of the view that at this stage, the State has managed to prove a prima facie case against the accused.

"The court is of the view that at this stage, the State has managed to prove a prima facie case against the accused. On the face of it, evidence led from the witnesses can't be said to be manifestly unreliable. The accused has to explain his defence to the court viz a viz the evidence from the State. Application for discharge is dismissed and accordingly the matter is remanded for the defence case on March 23," she said.

Mr Hlabano was arguing that the State, led by Ms Namatirai Chipere, had failed to prove its case of criminal abuse of office against his client, hence his reason for application for discharge.

State witness Detective Sergeant Mlabeni Sibanda told the court that Gwandu released the stolen Toyota Hilux double cab valued at US$27 000 to Kwekwe businessman Shepherd Tundiya who had bought it from a Harare car dealer.

Det Sgt Sibanda said it was communicated to Gwandu that there were 10 such stolen South African-registered vehicles and Toyota South Africa and its clients were making follow ups. Of the 10 vehicles, Det Sgt Sibanda said two were in Gweru including the one which was released to Mr Tundiya by Gwandu.

The court heard that releasing the stolen vehicle showed favour to Mr Tundiya since Gwandu had information to the effect that the vehicle had been stolen and smuggled into the country.

Det Sgt Sibanda said: "There are 10 such vehicles stolen in South Africa which are being tracked by Toyota South Africa. Two of these vehicles are in Gweru and the others are scattered around the country.

"We had made an appointment with Toyota South Africa together with its customers whose vehicles were stolen so that they come and identify the vehicles for possible repatriation to South Africa. This vehicle in question was supposed to be released to Toyota South Africa instead of Tundiya."

The State alleges that on December 14, last year, Gwandu released a Toyota Hilux valued at US$27 000, which was confiscated from Mr Tundiya after it was discovered that it had been stolen from South Africa.

Allegations are that Mr Tundiya, who was arrested on October 16 last year for possessing the motor vehicle was acquitted at the Gweru Magistrates Court on December 13. The following day, Gwandu allegedly released the stolen vehicle to the businessman without following due procedure.

The State further alleges that the car was stolen in South Africa from one Thomas Blom of CMH Toyota and was being investigated by Alberton Police Station in South Africa under case number 233/11/2017.  

The State said the vehicle was supposed to be handed to South African police but the accused person handed it to Mr Tundiya.

Source - chronicle

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