Three armed robbers who tried to escape from the Mutare Magistrate’s Court early this year, were sentenced to nine years in prison each.
They allegedly robbed a tobacco truck and stole $1 000 dollars. The three had three years of the sentence suspended.
Edmore Mangenje (29), Pardon Munetsi (29), Taurai Bieni (32) and a fourth accomplice who was shot dead during the attempted escape, caused a stir early this year when they tried to flee from the court where they had been taken for trial.
Their plan failed following the shootout that cost the life of their accomplice.
Presenting the State case, prosecutor Malvern Musarurwa said on December 9, 2009 the accused waylaid a Savanna Tobacco sales rep, Louis Muronda (38), who was delivering a cigarette consignment.
When Muronda was about to open his vehicle door, they grabbed and pinned him down. They then fired a shot in the air to scare away Good Samaritans who wanted to rescue him.
The robbers went on to search Muronda’s pockets and took away his mobile phone, $1 000 cash and personal particulars.
They then took keys to the truck and drove off with 16 boxes of cigarettes.
The court also heard that after the robbery, some of the accused jumped into an unregistered Toyota Corolla and drove off at high speed towards Manica Bridge.
But, before they could go far, the robbers who took the tobacco truck were involved in an accident and abandoned it.
After police investigations, Mangenje was arrested in a bar and he implicated his accomplices.
In passing sentence, regional magistrate Livingstone Chipadze noted that the robbers were a dangerous lot who had tried to escape even at court, hence the lengthy sentences.