Failure to secure Tswana translator stalls armed robbery trial

FAILURE by the State to secure the services of a Tswana language translator last week stalled the trial of five suspected armed robbers who allegedly stormed several Bulawayo schools and businesses, stealing property worth over $5 900.


One of the five suspects is a Botswana national who asked the court to provide an interpreter.

The suspects, Nqobizitha Ndlovu (33), Tapelo Moemedi (22), a Botswana national, Thobani Thebe (30), Nhlanhla Ncube (28) and Thomson Phuthi (38) were not asked to plead to the robbery charges when they appeared before Bulawayo senior magistrate Gladmore Mushove on Thursday last week.

The magistrate postponed the trial to January 5, 2016 after the State indicated that it had not yet secured a Tswana language translator. This was after Moemedi had previously asked for Tswana translation during the proceedings.

Prosecutor Jeremaih Mutsindikwa told the court that on September 12 this year, the suspects stormed Tategulu Primary School in Cowdray Park at night and manhandled security guards manning the premises.

They allegedly broke the padlock and got into the administration block, where they blasted open the strongroom using explosives and stole $1 297 and two cellphones belonging to the guards, before fleeing.

Using the same modus operandi, the suspects struck at Sikhulile High School in Lobengula West on September 17, where they allegedly tied the security guards together, before using explosives to open a strongroom.

They went away with a vehicle registration book for the school bus and Standard Chartered Bank cheques.

On October 12, the same gang allegedly pounced at Solatex Marketing (Pvt) Ltd in Kelvin North and manhandled the security guard before tying his hands together using shoelaces.

They then broke into the shopping mall, where they stole television sets, laptops, four boxes of gear oil, six boxes of engine oil and three pints of gear oil and vanished into the night.

The following night, they allegedly raided Enkundleni Sports Bar in Emganwini after scaling a perimeter wall and ordered the guard to lie down before tying his hands.

They then went into the sports bar and stole beer, a television set, disco system and cellphones all valued at $1 480.

The suspects were arrested on October 14.

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