Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
NINE Bulawayo police detectives allegedly fatally assaulted two suspected armed robbers and shot the bodies in a bid to claim that the suspects were killed while trying to flee from custody during indications at the crime scene.
The detectives, among them senior officers, allegedly committed the offence in 2009.
Philip Tada, Daniel Nimrod Kwaramba, George Zuze, Onias Mbano, Peter Muchada, Mgcini Sibanda, Mailos Mairos Ncube, President Masukume and Albert Zhou who were all attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Bulawayo, allegedly tortured Andrew Jabulani Quinton Sibanda and Temai Bvumbunu in March 2009 while they were in police custody.
The trial of the accused persons was supposed to kick off yesterday at the Bulawayo High Court following their indictment on two counts of murder and obstruction of justice.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese removed the matter from the roll after the State, which was represented by Mrs Sifiso Sibanda, indicated that it was not yet ready to proceed.
Mrs Sibanda said the State wishes to rope in one of the accused persons, Mgcini as its witness.
“The matter be and hereby removed from the roll. The State is not yet ready to proceed as accused six (Mgcini Sibanda) is now a State witness and a statement has not yet been requested from him,” said Justice Makonese.
The nine officers allegedly killed the two suspected armed robbers and tried to make it appear as if the suspects were shot dead as they attempted to flee from police custody.
Eight witnesses, among them relatives and residents who heard gunshots during the time are expected to give evidence during trial.
According to court papers, the nine detectives were handling a case in which Andrew and Bvumbunu had been arrested over a series of armed robbery cases.
The now deceased persons were arrested after they were raided at their homes in Njube suburb.
It was stated that after they were taken into custody, they were interrogated and allegedly assaulted by the accused persons using batons, sjamboks and open hands.
The deceased persons succumbed to the injuries sustained as a result of the assault.
In an attempt to cover up the fatal assault, the detectives then hatched a plan to make it appear as if the two had been shot after trying to escape from police custody.
They then loaded the bodies of the deceased persons under the cover of darkness into a motor vehicle and drove from Bulawayo Central Police Station to a bushy area in Queens Park.
They offloaded the bodies and laid them on the ground facing downwards and shot them in the back to look as if the deceased had tried to flee during indications.
The nine officers took the bodies to United Bulawayo Hospitals where a post-mortem examination was conducted by one doctor Garcia.
He concluded that the cause of death in relation with Andrew was caused by hypovolemic shock, bleeding, ruptured left kidney and left iliac artery and gunshot wounds.
With regards to Bvumbunu, Dr Garcia concluded that the cause of death was a result of acute anaemia, ruptured lungs and left femoral artery, gunshot wounds.
A sudden death docket was then compiled before an inquest was held by the late Bulawayo provincial magistrate Mr John Masimba.
During the inquest one Detective Sergeant Nyapokoto revealed that the deceased were assaulted and died while in police custody at the station.
He said the escape and shoot claim was stage-managed to conceal the actual cause of death.