BY RICHARD MUPONDE
FIFTY-two villagers from Hwange in Matabeleland North province, who appeared in court for looting food stuffs from a Victoria Falls-bound truck that overturned, have escaped imprisonment.
The villagers were all convicted on their own pleas of guilty to theft when they appeared before Hwange magistrate, Gift Thando Dube.
Dube warned and cautioned the elderly before discharging them while the middle-aged were given suspended sentences. The youths were given community service sentences.
The truck and the recovered goods were brought to Hwange Magistrates’ Courts as exhibits.
Prosecutor Memory Munsaka told the court that on May 8, a truck loaded with bags of maize meal, rice, snacks, salt and biscuits on its way to Victoria Falls verred off the road and landed on its side at the 320km peg just outside Hwange town at around 2am.
A report was made to the police and two traffic officers were deployed to attend the scene. When they arrived at the scene, some villagers were already looting the goods.
The police officers failed to stop the growing crowd which looted everything in the truck, with some villagers bringing ox-drawn carts to collect the plunder.
Police reinforcements later conducted door-door searches in nearby villages, leading to the arrest of the 52.