Zanu PF Bulawayo youths who kidnapped and extorted money from commuter omnibus touts were yesterday jailed for an effective three years.
The youths rounded up commuter omnibus touts and forcibly drove them to their party’s provincial offices in the city where they forced them to buy fuel for Zanu PF vehicles.
Despite pleading not guilty, three of them, Hardlife Ndlovu (29) of Emakhandeni, Nqobani Mlilo (31) and Mthunzi Mabhena (28), both of Nkulumane, were convicted of extortion and kidnapping by Bulawayo regional magistrate Mark Dzira.
They had engaged a lawyer, Advocate Sabelo Sibanda to represent them for mitigation after their conviction last week.
Dzira sentenced them to four years for kidnapping and one year for extortion. Two years of the sentence were suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
The court heard that on March 7, Ndlovu, Mlilo, and Mabhena went to Macs Garage in the city where they kidnapped the rank marshals of commuter omnibuses plying the Gwanda, Filabusi and Masvingo routes.
They took them to the Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial headquarters at Davis Hall.
It was the State case that while at the offices, they demanded $50 per day from each rank which they claimed was for fuelling Zanu PF vehicles which were grounded at the party offices.
The complainants told the three they would not be able to pay the money and Ndlovu, Mlilo and Mabhena then demanded money ranging from $5 to $12 depending on the routes. The complainants later agreed to pay the money at 3pm.
The youths were arrested by plainclothes police officers after a tip-off when they went to collect the money.