Three men, among them a prison guard stationed at Grey Prison in Bulawayo, were yesterday arraigned before the Gwanda Magistrates’ Court charged with unlawful entry and theft after they allegedly broke into Filabusi Post Office and used explosives to open the strong room and getting away with cash and airtime worth over $1 000.
By Own Correspondent
The alleged mastermind, Witness Hlongwane (29) of Sizinda, Mondli Dube (23), the prison guard, and Shepherd Makwikwi (39) appeared before magistrate Sheila Nazombe and were remanded in custody to today for bail ruling.
The trio are being represented by Byron Sengweni.
Nazombe deferred bail ruling after both counsels gave contradicting submissions on Hlongwane, who has a similar case pending at the Bulawayo Tredgold Courts.
In his bail application, Sengweni argued that Hlongwane’s Bulawayo case had been placed off remand, but State counsel Tafadzwa Mafudza submitted that he was the alleged mastermind.
He said the Tredgold case was still pending and that Hlongwane was due in court this Friday and was likely to flee or commit similar crimes if granted bail.
Hlongwane is alleged to have used the same modus operandi to steal from a Choppies shop in Bulawayo.
The court heard that on January 30, the trio allegedly planned to steal at Filabusi Post Office, where they went in a Mazda vehicle.
They allegedly stopped about 100 metres from the post office and Makwikwi remained behind the steering wheel, while Hlongwane and Dube proceeded to the post office.
The two allegedly used a bolt cutter to break in and while inside, blasted the strong room using explosives and took cash amounting to $816, $207 worth of airtime and 31 NetOne lines.
The blast was heard by a security guard at a neighbouring shop who alerted the police.
The two went on to break open the Postmaster’s Office and started setting explosives in the safe, intending to blast it open, but were disturbed by the arrival of police and they took to their heels.
Police then noticed the Mazda, which was parked close by. While police were interviewing Makwikwi, Hlongwane and Dube arrived in a pirate taxi intending to board the getaway vehicle.
The trio was arrested and a backpack containing four explosives, three explosive cartridges, a bolt cutter and NetOne lines was recovered.
Through their lawyer, the three denied the charges, with Makwikwi saying Hlongwane and Dube had come to assist him fix his broken down vehicle when police pounced.