Gokwe cops in hot soup over mbanje

GOKWE — TWO Sesame police officers face jail after they allegedly demanded bribes from villagers suspected of growing mbanje.

REPORT BY SILAS NKALA

The cops, Stephen Muchinazo (25) of Mafungautsi and Emmanuel Joel Muchemedzi (24) of Sesame in Gokwe allegedly demanded a $600 bribe each from three villagers they had arrested on suspicions that they were cultivating mbanje.

Appearing before Gokwe resident magistrate Sheppard Mjanja on Wednesday, the two pleaded not guilty to criminal abuse of public office charges and were remanded out of custody to July 17 for continuation of trial.

Prosecutor Mandla Ndlovu told the court that on March 20 at 3am the two went to Nemangwe area where they discovered that Khumbulani Mpofu had plants of mbanje in his garden. They arrested him after counting the plants but did not collect exhibits.

The cops allegedly demanded $600 for his release. Mpofu failed to pay the bribe and they took him to Svisvi police base where they detained him in a room.
Mpofu’s brother Josphat raised $450, which he allegedly gave to Muchinazo.

Muchinazo allegedly took the suspect to Sesame police base where he made him to pay a $10 fine for a charge of smoking mbanje before releasing him.

It is the State case that on the same day the two cops also arrested Aven Makopa for cultivating mbanje and demanded $600 for him to be released.

Josphat Mpofu had to sell Makopa’s cow for $350, which he allegedly gave to Muchinazo in the presence of Tawanda Mukwetu and Mthulisi Mpofu.

Muchinazo allegedly took Makopa to Sesame and made him pay a $10 fine for smoking mbanje before releasing him.

The two cops also arrested Blessing Ncube for growing mbanje and demanded $600 for him to be released.

They took him to Svisvi where they detained him before his cousin Emelinah Chamisa went and sold a bull for $200.

She allegedly paid the money to Muchinazo. Ncube was then taken to Sasame police base where he was made to pay a $10 fine for smoking mbanje before they released him. Lawyers representing Muchinazo said their client was absent when the three mbanje growing suspects were arrested and that he never collected any money from them. Khumbulani Mpofu, testifying in court, however, said Muchinazo collected the money from their relatives and even the fine they paid was not $10, but $20.

He said he suspected Muchinazo converted the other $30 they paid to his own use.

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