‘We stole cattle because we had not been paid’


TWO men convicted of stocktheft claimed that they decided to steal their employer’s cattle at the instigation of a local businessman who runs a butchery after going for months without pay.

Tinashe Mungazi
Own Correspondent

Philimon Lungu (33) and Costa Machove (19), who were each sentenced to 25 years in prison, told Hwange provincial magistrate Portia Mhlanga that their employer, Dumisani Nkomo, had not paid them, hence they stole his three cows.

“Your honour, we committed the offence after we realised that my uncle owed us in salaries and when we met (local businessman, Themba) Chauke he persuaded us to take the cattle as compensation for my uncle’s failure to settle our wages,” Lungu told the court.

“He told us that we were stupid not to know that a goat eats where it is tethered.cattle-11

“Your honour, besides that I wanted to raise money to go for an operation on my hand and buy medication since I’m HIV-positive. I pray the court be lenient with me.”

Prosecutor Onias Nyathi said on November 16 2014 at around 2pm, Lungu and Machove, a former worker, acted in common purpose and went to Madumabisa grazing area near South Mining, where they drove cattle for slaughter.

They then sold the meat to Chauke, a local businessman, who runs a butchery and restaurant. On November 28, the two proceeded again to Madumabisa grazing area near Number 2 sewage ponds, next to old Victoria Falls Road, where they again drove away two beasts.

They proceeded to Chauke’s home and drove the cattle into his pen, slaughtered a bull and sold the meat to him.

The court also heard that on another occasion on December 3, Lungu and Machove repeated their earlier feat and drove cattle to Chauke’s pen, with one brown cow belonging to the complainant.

The two slaughtered the cattle and sold the meat to Chauke, who then gave them the cow head for their consumption.

However, the cow head was identified by Busy Mudenda one of Nkomo’s employees, who immediately informed his boss. A report was made to the police, leading to their arrest.

The total value of cattle lost was $1 500.

The two, who pleaded guilty to stocktheft, which attracts a minimum of nine years per count, were each slapped with a 25-year jail term, with five years suspended on condition of good behaviour.