Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese has refused to uphold a non-custodian sentence imposed on a Zvishavane pickpocket who assaulted a police officer while trying to resist arrest.
By SILAS NKALA, STAFF REPORTER
A Zvishavane magistrate had fined Luku Luku (28) $500 or four months in jail after convicting him for assaulting a police officer.
A five-month prison term was wholly suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
But when the record came for review at the Bulawayo High Court on Thursday last week, Justice Makonese declined to rubber stamp a non-custodial sentence imposed by the magiastrate, saying it trivialised the crime.
Justice Makonese expressed concern over the sentence imposed on Luku, saying the crime he committed was aggravated by the fact that after being assaulted for trying to steal, he went on to file a false police report and later assaulted a policeman on duty.
The police officer had dismissed Luku’s story and sought to arrest him.
According to court records, on April 13, Luku went to the charge office at Zvishavane Police Station to report that he had been assaulted at FC Platinum Nite Club. Two police officers who were not named in the court papers, went to the nite club to investigate.
They discovered that Luku was assaulted by members of the public after he was caught red handed pickpocketing.
When he realised that he was facing arrest for making a false report and possibly for theft, Luku became violent and head-butted the police officer on the mouth before biting his finger.
The police officer sustained a swollen face and upper lip. During the trial Luku pleaded not guilty, but was convicted due to overwhelming evidence.
Justice Makonese said: “In my view, an assault upon a law enforcement officer during and in the course of his duties is a serious offence.
“What aggravates the conduct of the accused is that he entered the police station and lied that he had been assaulted by members of the public. Things became ugly for accused when his lies were exposed and it became apparent that he would be arrested. He not only resisted arrest, but he went onto assault a police officer who was carrying out his lawful duties. The judge said a sentence other than a custodial sentence would send a wrong message to would-be offenders.
“This was an unprovoked assault which caused fairly serious injuries upon the police officer,” Makonese said.
“I am of the view that the learned trial magistrate clearly misdirected himself in his approach to sentence. The accused humiliated the police officer by attacking him.”