Mystery surrounds the death of police detective Joseph Maximus who was initially believed to have been shot dead by armed robbers prompting regional magistrate Never Katiyo to order an inquest into his death.
Maximus was shot and killed on the spot when police detectives cornered armed robbers at Sports Diner nightclub in Harare while following up on suspects believed to have been involved in a bank heist that had taken place in Nyanga.
Katiyo issued the order Monday while delivering judgment in a case where armed robbers made off with $114 724 and R 14 322 at ZB Bank, Juliasdale, Nyanga in March.
Katiyo said no evidence was adduced during the trial to conclude the armed robbers engaged the police in a shootout that claimed Maximus’ life.
One of the suspected robbers Tafadzwa Nindi claimed he was shot by police as he was lying on the ground and not while resisting arrest.
“The second accused (Nindi) said there was no shootout with the police and the police officers who testified before this court confirmed the accused were not armed upon arrest. Who then shot the constable (Maximus) and where did the spent cartridges go, because nothing was recovered and produced in court?” Katiyo asked.
“This court wonders who is responsible for the cop’s death and if any weapon was used, whose weapon was it because the police said the accused did not have weapons when they arrested them?”
In his judgment the magistrate noted that one of the accused (Nindi) who was shot by the police on the scene said he heard police officers arguing amongst themselves while he was lying on the ground wounded.
“The second accused (Nindi) said he was shot whilst lying on the ground and heard some police officers arguing amongst themselves and he alleges constable Maximus was shot and died on the spot then,” Katiyo said.
Katiyo further noted that if the accused persons were responsible for the death of the officer they should have been charged with murder and appeared at the High Court but rather they were charged with armed robbery, a lesser charge.
Bright Madanha and Nindi were convicted of robbing the bank in Nyanga while their co-accused Lovemore Madiziyawo was acquitted after the court found that there was no evidence to link him to the offence although it was alleged he had supplied weapons used in the bank heist.
Madiziyawo’s wife could not hide her excitement as she danced outside the court room after pronouncement of the verdict leading to her husband’s acquittal.
Madanha and Nindi are expected to be sentenced on Friday after the court requested Nindi’s Lawyer Rekayi Maposa to bring the medical report that outlines the extent of injuries sustained by Nindi as a result of the gunshot wounds which Katiyo wants to consider before sentence.
The two convicted men were arrested nine months ago while their accomplice John Teramayi escaped on the scene but was later involved in a police shootout where he was shot dead.
The court also ordered the recovered $53 555 and ZAR12 072 to be returned to ZB Bank Juliasdale.
According to the evidence presented in court, on March 17 this year the gang is said to have connived to rob the bank and they proceeded to Nyanga ZB bank where upon arrival they ordered the bank manager Leonard Taderera together with other employees to lie down before spraying them with pepper while pointing firearms at them.
The court heard that the gang demanded the keys from Moleen Kananga and Clifford Charingeuta before ordering Moses Munyuki to the vault where they stole the money and locked him in before getting away.
After receiving the report, the police detectives trailed down the gang but they dumped their getaway vehicle, a Nissan Bluebird, at a local garage in Harare before getting into a taxi with tinted windows.
While at Sports Diner the police closed in and ordered the taxi occupants to surrender but one of the robbers is alleged to have opened the door and fired two shots, which hit Maximus in the chest and abdomen.
During the ensuing shootout with the police Madanha and Nindi were arrested on the spot and they allegedly led the police to the arrest of their colleagues.
Prosecutor Michael Reza appeared for the state.