Alleged coup plotter jailed for 5 years

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Alleged coup plotter Albert Mugove Matapo (43) and jailbird Lucky Mhungu (28), were yesterday slapped with a five-year prison term each after being convicted of attempting a jailbreak at Chikurubi Maximum Prison two years ago.

Harare regional magistrate Morgan Nemadire said there was no doubt the offence of attempting to escape from lawful custody was serious and the two deserved an effective term of imprisonment.

However, two years of the sentence were suspended leaving them with three-year effective terms each. The magistrate further ruled Mhungu’s sentence would run concurrently with a 12-year-jail term he is serving for robbery.

During trial the State proved the two’s attempt to escape from prison in April 2010 after being assisted by a former prison officer Donald Gwekwerere. At the close of the State case, they made an application for discharge which was dismissed on December 15 last year.

Gwekwerere, who is already serving a prison term after being convicted of aiding the attempted jailbreak, became the State’s star witness in the matter.

He told the court he was approached by Matapo and Mhungu and was promised a house, car, $6 000 cash and assistance to get a job in the United States of America if he facilitated their escape bid. The planned escape was, however, foiled by other prison guards.

Prosecutor Michael Reza said on the day in question the two men were in Cell-2 when they cut some burglar bars securing the observation window using a hacksaw and a hammer.

Reza said they created a hole in a bid to properly execute their escape, but an alert prison officer apprehended them before they bolted away.Matapo has been in custody since 2007 on treason charges following allegations of attempting to topple the government, but the Supreme Court cleared him of the charges, saying the State had infringed on his rights by failing to try him within a reasonable period.