THREE Bulawayo men, jailed for 97 years each for robbing several commuters in the city of their goods and cash after masquerading as private transport operators, have appealed their sentences, which they described as too harsh.
BY SILAS NKALA
The trio of Chaniwa and Tauya Rukani and Mpumelelo Dube from Nkulumane were convicted on their own plea of guilty to 11 counts of robbery by then regional magistrate, Sikhumbuzo Nyathi.
They were sentenced to an effective 62 years in prison each after 35 years were suspended on condition of good behaviour and on condition they restitute their victims.
Through their lawyer, Christopher Dube Banda, the three appealed for a reduction of the sentences, saying they were too harsh.
The appeal was heard by High Court judges, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi and Francis Bere, who reserved judgment indefinitely.
“It is humbly submitted that the sentence by the court a quo was manifestly excessive in the circumstances and as such warrants interference by the appellate court,” Dube Banda submitted.
“The appellants committed the offence of 11 counts of robbery in the space of 14 days using the same modus operandi to rob different complainants in various parts of the city of Bulawayo.”
He said in casu, the offences committed by his clients were similar and all robbery cases closely linked in point of time such that they could have been treated as one for the purpose of sentence.
“It is submitted that the lengthy prison term was appropriate in this case, but not as lengthy as to induce a sense of shock, 97 years imprisonment clearly shows that there was overemphasis of the seriousness of the offence at the expense of the offender,” Dube Banda said.
He suggested his clients should have been sentenced to between five and seven years.
Dube Banda said his clients exercised violence in their offences but not to an extent of warranting 97 years in jail.
He later suggested that a sentence in the region of 20 years and have five years suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour and three years on condition of restitution was appropriate.
The prosecutor, Nokuthaba Ngwenya submitted that the State agreed with the reduction of sentence and suggested that several counts be considered as one count.