Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
JAILED Esigodini gold dealer Baron Dube has been released by the High Court on $30 000 bail pending appeal against his conviction and sentence at the Supreme Court.
Dube (45) of Habane Extension Township, was last year convicted of murder and sentenced to an effective 10 years in jail by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maxwell Takuva in connection with the death of Prince Antony Bvundura in September 2018.
Dube shot Bvundura, a member of a rival mining gang in Esigodini, in the heat of a fight over a mining claim at Block 13 Atlas Mine in Esigodini using a Voere 458 calibre rifle.
Bvundura was aged 22 at the time of his death.
In October, Dube successfully applied to the Supreme Court to be granted leave to note the appeal at the High Court challenging his conviction and sentence. In papers before the court, the State was cited as a respondent.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese on Thursday granted Dube bail and ordered him to surrender his travel documents as part of the conditions.
Dube was also ordered to continue residing at his given address until the matter is finalised.
Justice Makonese said Dube’s appeal carries prospects of success.
“I am satisfied that the application does pass the test of reasonable prospects of success. In the circumstances, applicant is hereby admitted to bail pending the finalisation of his appeal filed under case number SCB57/21,” ruled the judge.
In his grounds of appeal, through his lawyer Mr Leopold Mudisi of Mutendi, Mudisi and Shumba Legal Practitioners, Dube said his appeal carries prospects of success, arguing that the State failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt.
He said his conviction and sentence were not warranted.
Dube contended that there was no evidence suggesting that if released on bail, he would abscond.
He said the lower court erred by convicting him when there was no evidence to support his conviction. Dube said his conviction was unsafe, arguing that the State relied on uncorroborated evidence.
“In my evidence, I mentioned that I accidentally discharged my revolver following an attack by gold panners. The State had a duty to prove that the projectile which caused the death of the deceased was discharged from my rifle and that I was not attacked resulting in me falling into a pit,” argued Dube.
He argued that the firearm accidentally discharged after he stepped on a rock and fell down while fleeing from a mob, which was throwing stones at him while baying for his blood.
Mr Khumbulani Ndlovu who is representing the State, opposed the application, saying the State had proved beyond reasonable doubt that Dube deliberately shot and killed Bvundura.
“It is common cause that the deceased was shot by the applicant and died from a gunshot wound. The court was alive to the fact that the State needed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt,” he said.
“The court rejected the notion that there was an accidental discharge. The court analysed the evidence and concluded that the applicant proffered two versions.”
According to court papers, on September 26, 2018, Bvundura went to work at Block 13 Atlas Mine in Esigodini in the company of his workmates. On the same day, Dube arranged a gang of about 20 people so that they could disperse everyone and take over the mine where there was a gold rush.
At about 11PM, Dube armed himself with two guns, a revolver and a rifle and his accomplices were carrying machetes, axes, shovels and picks.
He drove to the mine in his Toyota Land Cruiser with his gang and on arrival at the mine, he chased away all miners, claiming he had been granted authority to operate at the mine by the owner, one Mr Tendai Musanangura.
Bvundura, who was part of a group of miners fleeing during the skirmishes, was shot and he died on the spot.
According to the post-mortem results the cause of death was gunshot wound, heart destruction and hypovolemic shock. — @mashnets