Mejury Magaya, Midlands Reporter
A POLICE officer who was part of a five-member gang of armed robbers wailed in court after each of them was handed a 60-year jail term for armed robbery.
The cop, Thulani Nkala (38) appeared together with Taurai Matarirano (27), Isaac Kawundura (33), George Chikomberanwa (34) and Dunira Hungwe (33) before Gweru Regional Magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa facing 10 counts of armed robbery.
They had pleaded not guilty to the charges but were convicted on six counts.
The court proved that the five robbers were each armed with assault rifles when they raided a mine in Gweru.
At one time they fired shots at a mine, killing a security guard’s dog.
Mrs Msipa said due to overwhelming evidence submitted in court, Nkala, Matarirano, Kawundura, Chikomberanwa and Hungwe deserved a lengthy prison stay.
She jailed them for 60 years each and suspended 15 years for good behaviour.
However, Nkala who said he had a two-year-old child and an unemployed wife as well as his accomplice Matarirano forced the court to adjourn briefly when they started wailing uncontrollably after Mrs Msipa handed down their sentence.
For the State, Mr Talent Tadenyika said sometime in 2018 Nkala who was wearing an anti- riot police uniform and armed with a 303 rifle went to a local mine run by Camlark Investments with Matarirano, Kawundura, Chikomberanwa and Hungwe.
At the mine, they saw a security guard and identified themselves as police officers who wanted to search the place for firearms.
“They searched security guards and took their cellphones and they stole property valued at US$1 700. They also stole Zhang Dawei`s Chinese passport and US$1 070 and $1 500 at his quarters and nothing was recovered,” he said.
The court heard that on the same day and at the same mine, the gang threatened another Chinese national Mr Chen Yang Yang with firearms and took his cellphone, US$930, $330, R400 and 17 000 Chinese Yuan.
They went to another employee, Mr Jinkai Yu`s room and robbed him of US$900, $150 and 300 Chinese Yuan.
“They further went to the quarters of the manager threatened him with firearms robbed him of US$1 200, $120 and 840 Chinese Yuan.
“The proceeded to the managing director`s room, also ransacked the room looking for valuables and managed to get US$2 000, $5 000, 10 kilograms of silver which was stored in cone and bar shapes. They deflated tyres for two vehicles,” said Mr Tadenyika.
“They stole an Isuzu king cab and drove away from the scene to a point near Old Eastlea and the cab was recovered.”
Nkala was the first to be arrested.