Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
SIX Gwanda cattle rustlers who were incensed by the arrest of their colleague, mobilised each other and set dogs on a member of the neighbourhood watch committee before they fatally attacked him during bloody clashes.
Reason Mpofu (54), Edward Ndlovu (40), Pilate Nkomo (30), Ephraim Ndlovu (43), Qhubekani Ndlovu (36) and Forget Dube (54) all from Shanyaugwe village under Chief Marupi area yesterday appeared before Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Maxwell Takuva facing murder charges in connection with the death of Moses Sibanda (43).
The accused persons, who were armed with spears and knobkerries, launched a manhunt for an anti-stocktheft team comprising of police, members of the neighbourhood watch committee and Shanyaugwe villagers after the arrest of their colleague.
The six men found their alleged rivals camped in the bush resulting in bloody skirmishes during which Sibanda was attacked to death.
Prosecuting, Mr Thompson Hove said on March 17 in 2010, Sibanda was part of a team comprising two police officers, neighbourhood watch committee members and local villagers who were on an operation to curb stocktheft in Shanyaugwe.
The court heard that during the anti-stocktheft exercise, four suspects linked to the cattle rustling syndicate were arrested.
“The accused persons hatched a plan to free their colleague. They ganged up and tracked the taskforce team,” said Mr Hove.
He said during the hunt, the accused persons found their rivals camped in the bush and they set dogs on them.
Sensing defeat, members of the anti-stock theft team fled in different directions, but the accused persons managed to catch up with Sibanda.
“They attacked the deceased all over the body and he suffered severe bruises and lacerations while three other members of the neighbourhood watch committee were also injured during the attack,” said Mr Hove.
The accused persons dragged Sibanda to a nearby borehole where they dumped him and left him lying unconscious on the ground.
The cattle rustlers went on a rampage destroying property belonging to villagers. Two days later, Sibanda was picked up by police from the crime scene and he was taken to Beitbridge District Hospital where he died shortly after admission.
According to post mortem results, the cause of death was skull fracture, head injury and assault.
Mr Jaheni Dube, who is Sibanda’s brother-in-law, yesterday took to the witness stand and narrated how the accused persons and their accomplices surrounded them before they indiscriminately attacked them with stones.
“They caught us off guard and set dogs on us before they attacked us with stones. We fled in all directions and they caught up with the deceased and assaulted him as I watched from a distance. They also incited dogs to bite him as they were brutally attacked him using sticks, knobkerries and stones,” he said.
Mr Dube, who was part of the taskforce team, told the court that he went to Zezani Police Station and reported the matter to the police.
Mr Kholwani Ngwenya of TJ Mabhikwa and Partners is representing the accused persons.