A fifth suspect in the theft of over 12 000 emergency travel documents (ETDs) in Gweru in 2009 was remanded in custody when he appeared at Gweru Magistrates’ Court last Friday.
Gabriel Marufu (30) of Cheza Village under Chief Mangwende in Murehwa had been on the run since the offence came to light and was away when his four alleged accomplices were last month jailed to 15 years over the offence.
Marufu told the court he fled to Mozambique when he committed the offence. When State counsel Michael Mhene requested for his passport as evidence of his travel, Marufu claimed he had entered that country without a passport.
Mhene told the court Marufu could not be considered for bail since he was a flight risk.
It is the State’s case that sometime in 2009, David Chananda (39), Spiwe Mukombe (38), Rudo Mhlophe (28) and Vimbai Gwagwa (31) and Marufu were responsible for collecting stationary from the Harare Central Registry offices for distribution to different sections in the department. In the process, they stole 12 007 ETDs valued at $600 350.
Chananda, Mukombe, Mhlope and Gwagwa were sentenced to a 15-year jail term each, but had two years suspended on condition of good behaviour and a further two years suspended on condition they restitute the Home Affairs ministry $150 000 each before or on December 31 2015.
On August 26 2009, immigration officials at Plumtree Border Post arrested Wonderful Mupambi for possessing a suspicious ETD.
Investigations showed the document emanated from the Gweru registry offices and inspection noted there were no break-ins into the storeroom and the safe.