Bright Madanha, a convicted Nyanga bank robber who witnessed the “cold-blooded murder” of a policeman, says he is now living in fear while in remand prison following numerous suspicious visits by senior police officers he claims have threatened to kill him should he “spill the beans”.
This came out in a long judgment by regional magistrate Never Katiyo who ordered an inquest into the death of police detective Joseph Maximus whose death still remains a mystery.
“The accused (Madanha) said he has been visited many times in remand prison by senior police officers and threatened with death if he reveals what happened,” Katiyo noted.
The two convicted armed robbers, Madanha and Tafadzwa Nindi, are expected to be sentenced tomorrow if the doctor’s report requested by the magistrate detailing the extent of injuries sustained by Nindi after being shot by the police will be made available.
Katiyo says he wants to consider Nindi’s injuries in mitigation before deciding on the kind of sentence to impose on the pair.
Katiyo noted in his judgment that Nindi, currently using crutches, said he was in pain after being shot by the detectives when he heard them arguing among themselves and in no time heard a gunshot he suspects killed Maximus.
“The second accused (Nindi) said he was shot whilst lying on the ground and heard some police officers arguing among themselves and he alleges Constable Maximus was shot and died on the spot then,” Katiyo said.
Katiyo stressed in his judgment that the suspected robbers were not armed which evidence was not rebutted by state witnesses while the detectives admitted arresting unarmed men.
Maximus was reportedly shot and killed on the spot when the police cornered the armed robbers at Sports Diner, a popular Harare nightspot, following the bank heist in Nyanga.
Madanha told the magistrate he never resisted arrest but witnessed the unfolding drama as his colleague was shot while lying on the ground.
“The second accused (Nindi) said there was no shootout with the police while 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?”
“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?” the magistrate asked.
It was also noted by the court that if the arrested accused persons had a hand in the murder on the day in question regardless of the part each of them played, they were supposed to be charged with murder and not armed robbery.
The late John Teramayi, the duo’s co-accused person, is said to have fled the scene, but was never mentioned as a suspect. The only person therefore who holds the last piece to the puzzle is perhaps Madanha who is suspected to have witnessed the unfolding events as his colleague Nindi was lying down injured.
Madanha and Nindi were convicted last week of robbing the bank in Nyanga while their co-accused Lovemore Madiziyawo was acquitted after the court found no evidence linking him to the offence although it was alleged he might have supplied weapons used in the heist.
According to the evidence presented in court, on March 17 this year the gang is said to have connived to rob the bank.
They proceeded to Nyanga ZB Bank where upon arrival they ordered the bank manager Leornard Taderera together with other employees to lie down before spraying them with pepper while pointing firearms.
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 $114 724 and R14 322 and locked Munyuki in before getting away.
Along the way, the gang dumped their getaway car, 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 said to have opened the door and fired two shots.
Prosecutor Michael Reza said during the ensuing shootout, the police arrested Madanha and Nindi and subsequently their colleagues after which they recovered $53 555 and R12 072 which money the court ordered should be returned to ZB Bank Juliasdale.