SEVEN Mbada Diamonds employees appeared at Mutare Magistrates Courts last Thursday facing seven counts of unlawful possession of the precious stones.
The suspects were not asked to plead to the charge when they briefly appeared before magistrate Sekai Chiundura who granted them $100 bail each and remanded the matter to August 7.
They are Innocent Tsindi (power screen operator), Simbarashe Gondo (sorter), Hardlife Kuhudzehwe (dozer operator), Temba Mvalo (dozer operator), Talkmore Chigeza (sorter), Tendai Gwazaza (supervisor in the sorting department) and Tafadzwa Ngorima (sorter).
They were jointly charged with Charles Gonzo, who is employed by Mutare businessman Mudassar Khan.
Khan runs a diamond cutting and polishing company in Mutare.
According to the State, during the period between August 1 2013 and February this year, the seven allegedly stole the diamonds from their employer and sold them to Khan. The State alleges that Gonzo transported the gems to Khan’s office in the city.
The State further alleges that the seven received cash payments and vehicles as part of the deal.
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The alleged offence came to light on March 18 after police received a tip off and recovered the vehicles given to the employees.
However, the suspects’ lawyer Trust Maanda said his clients were tortured by police to falsely confess that they traded diamonds with Khan. He said his clients have written affidavits to put it on record how they were tortured.
Initially, six of the suspects were supposed to stand as State witnesses in the matter in which Khan is being charged for unlawful possession of diamonds, but were later dropped from the list and charged after they maintained that they were coerced to implicate Khan.
The suspects are now demanding over $2 million damages from Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and other four senior police officers involved in the matter.
They have also filed a High Court application demanding back their cars which were impounded by police during investigations.