A GWANDA-BASED officer, who connived with a friend to steal six beef master breeding bulls belonging to a white commercial farmer, will languish in jail after being sentenced to an effective 18 years behind bars.
Constable Wilson Mutazwa (32) of Kafusi Police Base and Tafadzwa Goremusandu (29) of Gwanda Police Camp, who is married to a policewoman, had pleaded not guilty to stocktheft charges, but were convicted by magistrate Sheila Nazombe due to overwhelming evidence on Friday.
The State called 12 witnesses to testify against the two and Nazombe said a prima facie case had been proven beyond reasonable doubt.
Among the witnesses were the complainant, farm workers, police officers, a veterinary officer and the truck driver who transported the beasts and employees of Montana Abattoir where the bulls were slaughtered.
The two, who had been granted bail when they initially appeared in court, had their bail revoked after they started threatening key State witnesses. In passing sentence, Nazombe said the two had acted in common purpose with Mutazwa providing the police livestock clearance form while Goremusandu organised transportation of the beasts.
Nazombe said it was aggravatory that the offence was premeditated and that Mutazwa had used police livestock clearance in stealing the cattle. On February 12, the two met at Caltex Garage in Gwanda and hatched a plan to steal Kery Wyn Steward’s cattle at Insindi Farm.
The next morning, Goremusandu went to Kafusi Police Base where Mutazwa was stationed to pursue the deal. Mutazwa then produced a stock clearance form and together with Goremusandu endorsed false information on the form.
Particulars of seller, buyer, village head, police officers and name of police station were falsely endorsed. Goremusandu took the forged clearance form to the vet department where he acquired an animal movement permit authorising him to transport six bulls to Montana Abattoir in Bulawayo for slaughter.
Goremusandu hired a truck to ferry the stolen beasts and with the assistance of two drivers managed to load four of them into the truck while the other twoescaped.
He then gave the truck driver the clearance forms and permit and instructed him to take the cattle to Montana Meats. He also instructed managers at the abattoir not to hand over cash to anyone saying he would personally collect the money as the cattle belonged to him.
Goremusandu was arrested when he went to collect his payment at Montana Abattoir and implicated Mutazwa.
The value of the four stolen beasts was $2 700.
In mitigation, Goremusandu’s lawyer Thompson Mabhikwa pleaded with the court not to impose an “unduly harsh sentence” on his client while Mutazwa, who was not represented, indicated that he was on tuberculosis treatment.