Nyaradzo Bakari, Chronicle Reporter
A NOTORIOUS carjacker who dramatically escaped from police custody with a colleague in September following his arrest for stripping and tying up motorists after robbing them has been sentenced to 32 years in prison.
Police arrested Dominic Tachyon Tichawangana (37) at his residence in Pumula South, following an intensive six-day manhunt.
His accomplice Farai Nhiwatiwa (30), was sentenced to an effective 16 years in prison in September.
The two were arrested on August 24 and escaped from custody when they were returning from Harare where they had been taken for indications.
Nhiwatiwa was rearrested a day after escaping at a relative’s house in Emganwini suburb.
Tichawangana was arrested six days later.
The court heard that the duo, with a third accomplice Maxwell Robson Senzawayo who is still at large, hijacked three motorists and robbed them of cash and cellphones
Tichawangana appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Joseph Mabeza facing armed robbery, escape from lawful custody and two counts of robbery.
He pleaded guilty to escaping from lawful custody and not guilty to the other three counts.
Mr Mabeza convicted him of robbery and sentenced him to 32 years in jail.
The magistrate suspended eight years on condition that he does not within five years commit a similar crime. The magistrate warned and cautioned him for escaping from lawful custody.
Tichawangana will serve an effective 24 years in prison.
Prosecuting, Mr Tinashe Dzipe said the trio hijacked and robbed motorists and a manager at a local lodge in Bulawayo between July 29 and August 13 this year.
He said on July 29 at around 12:45AM they hijacked Mr Sylvester Chitandawata, a taxi driver who was coming from Pumula East after pretending to be commuters headed to the city centre via Emganwini.
“Nhiwatiwa gave instructions to Chitandawata until he got confused and stopped the car. The trio dragged him out of the car, force-marched him into the bush where they took $163 and his cell phone,” he said.
“They stripped Chitandawata naked, stole his clothes and drove away in his Toyota Raum which they dumped along Bulawayo-Plumtree Road,” Mr Dzipe said.
“On August 2 at around 9:30PM, they carjacked Mr Ndumiso Ndlovu, a Honda Fit driver at the intersection of Masiyepambili, Luveve and Emakhandeni Road after they hired him to drive them to Nhliziyo Shops in Entumbane.”
The court heard that they robbed him of $18, a Huawei cell phone, tied him with seat belts and sped off in his car.
“At around 10PM, the gang robbed the manager of Moriah Guest Lodge Mr Robert Chinemurumbi. They threatened to shoot him with a pistol before robbing him of $50 and a phone,” said Dzipe.
The court heard that they forced him to lock himself in a toilet and sped off in the getaway car they had stolen from Mr Ndlovu.
“On August 13 the gang carjacked Mr McAndrew Munorweyi, a pirate taxi driver after asking him to drive them to Northend,” he said.
The court heard that they asked him to stop in front of a house and grabbed him by the neck, shoved him into the back seat of his car. They robbed him of $20 and a Gtel A1 cellphone.
Mr Munorweyi escaped by jumping from the moving vehicle and sustained bruises. Nhiwatiwa was convicted on his own plea to three counts of carjacking, one count of armed robbery and a count of unlawful escape from police custody by Mr Mabeza. He was sentenced to 16 years in prison, with Tichawangana getting 32 years behind bars. — @NyarieBakie.