Beitbridge cop tries to block car theft trial

A BEITBRIDGE police officer has dragged the State to the Supreme Court for resuscitating a nine-year-old vehicle theft charge against him.

REPORT BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

Nkosana Mbambo, a detective sergeant based at the Beitbridge Control Unit, said the State violated the Constitution and infringed on his rights to a fair trial.

Mbambo faces charges of “unlawfully taking a South Africa-registered Nissan Hardbody vehicle that was parked at the police station for safekeeping in January 2005”.

The vehicle belonged to a Malawian who had given it to one Ngonidzashe Mandaza as surety for borrowing R30 000.

According to the State, Mbambo grabbed the vehicle’s registration papers and keys from Mandaza “after telling the complainant that he was not allowed to possess a foreign-registered vehicle without an affidavit statement”.

The vehicle was never seen again. Mbambo was reported to the police, but was never arrested or charged until March this year when he was summoned to the police to give a statement relating to the case.

He was charged with Contravening Section 113 and 174 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

But on Thursday, Mbambo filed an application at the Beitbridge Magistrates’ Court demanding a referral of the case to the Supreme Court, saying the State should not be resuscitating a nine-year-old case.

“Accused right to a fair trial/hearing within reasonable time as enshrined in Section 18(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe has been violated in that the alleged wrongful actions of the accused were known to the State in 2004-2005 as represented by a member of the police officers who are supposed to be witnesses in the case.

“Since then, eight/nine years have lapsed and the accused was not charged or brought to trial and hence has not been afforded a fair hearing within reasonable time, a right given to a natural person by Section 18(2) of the Constitution of the Republic of Zimbabwe,” the application filed on Thursday reads.

“This application and for the reasons stated, is not frivolous and as such should be referred to the Supreme Court for a determination as to whether or not the accused’s rights to a fair trial within reasonable time has been infringed.”

The State is cited as the only respondent in the application filed by Mbambo’s lawyer Matshobana Ncube of Phulu and Ncube Legal Practitioners.
Beitbridge magistrate Innocent Bepura referred the case to the Supreme Court.

In the application, Mbambo’s lawyer said the police officer will be prejudiced if he was tried after nine years since evidence had been destroyed or gone missing.

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