TWO members of the Zimbabwe National Army have appeared at the Mutare Magistrates’ Court charged with smuggling second-hand clothes from neighbouring Mozambique.
By Kenneth Nyangani
The two reportedly had to dodge a hail of bullets from police officers manning the porous border between Zimbabwe
and its eastern neighbour.
Second accused Sam Musara (30) and Innocent Mutavira (29), the third accused, who are serving officers in the army stationed at Three Brigade Headquarters,
Mutare, are jointly charged with John Paratambwa (28), who is employed by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
It is the State case that on October 20 this year, Musara was driving a Toyota Caravan omnibus in the company of Mutavira transporting smuggled bales of second-hand clothes.
Gift Tembo, a ZRP inspector and a witness in the matter, allegedly stopped the accused persons and indicated to them that they were under arrest for “possession of illegal second-hand clothes”.
It is the State case that Matavira called Paratambwa who swiftly arrived at the scene.
According to State papers, Paratambwa whispered to the other accused persons who then drove away hastily.
Tembo ordered Constable Moses Mabuto to shoot at the omnibus, but the accused sped away at high speed despite the shooting.
Paratambwa was then apprehended while the second and third accused persons were arrested as they allegedly made a report of a “shooting incident” after reportedly disposing of their contraband.
In his statement, Tembo said they received a tip-off that the soldiers wanted to smuggle second-hand clothes from Mozambique.
“On October 20, 2015 at around 2200hrs, I received information from an informer that a white two-tonne truck and a grey Toyota Caravan omnibus with tinted windows with registration ADQ 5370 were loading second-hand bales at Border Stream,” he said.
“I assembled a team and proceeded to Prince of Wales for an ambush. Upon arrival at Prince of Wales, I instructed Sergeant Phiri to drop us and park the police vehicle about 100 metres from the ambush area,” Tembo said.
“At around 22:35hours the Toyota Caravan matching our informer’s description approached from Border Stream and putting on reflective traffic sleeves, I waved to stop the Toyota Caravan. However, this was in vain as the driver approached at high speed nearly running me over.”
The second and third accused, through their lawyer Farai Matinhure from Gonese and Ndlovu Legal Practitioners, are denying the charge instead arguing the police should answer to a charge of “shooting” at them. They are arguing that Tembo was not wearing a reflective traffic vest and they feared that they were robbers. “The clients have no case here, the Prince of Wales area is well known that it is a dangerous place as robbers always operate in the area, there is no way my clients were going to stop before assessing the situation first,” Matinhure said.
Magistrate Nyasha Kuture is presiding over the matter and the trial continues today.