BULAWAYO magistrate Trinos Wutawashe yesterday shot down a request by suspected armed robbers for the investigating officer to testify on the ownership of the gun they allegedly used.
The suspects also wanted the detective to furnish the court with fingerprints found on the gun at the time of their arrest.
Mduduzi Ndlovu (31) of Geneva in Gwanda, Learnmore Gona (30) of Sauerstown, Bulawayo, and Thabolwethu Mlanzi (31) of Habane, Esigodini, allegedly tried to rob the Zimbabwe Parks and Wildlife Authority (Zimparks) offices in Bulawayo in May.
They were allegedly armed with an AK 47 assault rifle which Ndlovu is said to have produced before demanding rhino horns from an official.
However, a Zimparks ranger wrested the gun from him. Ndlovu, Gona and Mlanzi are denying the charges.
In his defence yesterday, Ndlovu told the court that he was not aware of what happened soon after he was caught as he was hit by someone with an iron rod and only regained consciousness in hospital.
When Wutawashe asked if he had any request, Ndlovu asked that the investigating officer be called to testify on the ownership of the gun alleged to have been used in the attempted robbery.
The three suspects have denied charges that they had a gun on the day in question. The magistrate rejected Ndlovu’s request saying: “Do you think the ownership issue is going to help you in this case?
“How many guns have you seen whose ownership you don’t know? There are many guns which have been found here; some were stolen and some picked up; some left during the war.
“If he comes and tells us that this gun belongs to so and so, how will that help you in this case?” Wutawashe asked.
“I want him to clarify why he says the gun was mine,” said Ndlovu.
“The issue here is not about who is the owner of the gun; it can be discovered who owns the gun, but that has nothing to do with the offence you are alleged to have committed.
What is important is who had that gun on that day and it is not the investigating officer who knows that, but the witnesses who were there and your friends,” Wutawashe said.
Gona also asked the court if it was possible for fingerprints to be lifted, but the magistrate said the gun had been touched by many people, including him and the clerk of courts and it was not reasonable for him to ask for the fingerprints.
“You need to bring witnesses here who can show that you are not the one who tried to rob the offices, that is what is important not the issue of the gun.
“We do not want to waste time on issues which are not relevant to the case,” said Wutawashe.
Prosecutor Robin Mukura told the court that on May 1 at around 4pm, the three — in the company of three others still at large — went to the Zimparks offices in the city centre and approached senior ranger Godfrey Munkuli who was manning the reception.
Ndlovu pulled out an AK 47 rifle from his bag and pointed it at Munkuli demanding rhino horns stored at the offices.
Munkuli fought them and managed to disarm Ndlovu while screaming for help.
Other officials in the offices rushed to Munkuli’s rescue and assisted him apprehend the three with the help of members of the public.
The trial continues today.