A suspected armed robber accused of fatally shooting a senior Bulawayo police detective Lawrence Chatikobo during a raid at a city nightclub in September 2010 has been removed from remand.
The development has left the State case in limbo with the trial set to start soon.
The High Court has set March 29 as the trial date.
Soon after the incident, which occurred in September 2010 at a city nightspot, police adopted a shoot-to-kill policy in the city.
The suspect, Choga Njiva, was removed from remand by Bulawayo magistrate Sibongile Msipa following an application by his lawyer, Leeson Ncube.
Ncube argued his client’s right to a trial within a reasonable time had been violated in terms of the Constitution and his liberty was at risk since he had spent more than a year on remand without trial.
He accused the police of rushing to arrest before carrying out thorough investigations.
State counsel Malvern Nzombe opposed the application, but his arguments were quashed by Msipa who accused the State of frustrating the suspect’s application.
Msipa presided over the matter on Choga’s initial remand at United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) where he had been admitted after being allegedly assaulted by the police. She went away for a year and came back only to find Choga still on remand.
According to a criminal cause list, Choga together with his co-accused, Khumbulani Ncube and Blessing Gwezera, were supposed to face trial in the first term of the Bulawayo High Court.
Choga and his accomplices are suspected to have been part of the armed gang that stormed Bulawayo’s Cape to Cairo Restaurant where they fatally shot Chatikobo and injured another police detective, Pedzisai Shoko.
The other, Mthelisi Sibanda shot and killed himself in November of the same year when detectives cornered him after dramatically tracking him for 20kms to Tsholotsho.
Chatikobo was killed when the four suspected armed robbers raided the nightclub and escaped with $700.
It is alleged the senior cop was killed trying to fight the armed robbers.
Workers at the club, Nonhlanhla Moyo and Ndodana Tshuma, two other patrons and the detective Shoko were also critically injured. The five were admitted at UBH.
Choga and his accomplices allegedly emptied the bar tills and took away all the cash and fled on foot.