Machete gang kept in jail

Michael Magoronga, Midlands Correspondent

A 40-member machete-wielding gang of gold panners who allegedly invaded a police base in Gokwe North in an attempt to rescue their colleagues, have been denied bail.

They pounced on the police base armed with machetes trying to rescue nine of their colleagues who had been arrested for armed robbery.

Gokwe Magistrate Mr Musaiona Shortgame on Saturday remanded the gang to January 22 for trial.

In denying them bail, Mr. Shortgame said that the gang was facing serious charges and they were flight risks.

“The court has proved beyond doubt that there are compelling reasons why the accused should remain in custody. The court concurs with the State submissions that the case against the accused persons was strong and that may induce them to abscond if released,” said Mr Shortgame.

He said their release may also endanger the safety of the public.

The suspects’ lawyer Mr Tinashe Matiyashe of Matiyashe Law Chambers had argued that his clients were not flight risks.

But the State led by Mr Liberty Chimwaradze argued that the case should not be taken lightly since the accused posed a threat to national security.

“These are people of no fixed abode who are likely to do anything. Your Honour, they are likely to abscond. I therefore pray to this court to detain the accused persons in custody,” said Mr Chimwaradze.

It is the State’s case that on January 6 this year, around 5PM, police manning Zenda Police base arrested nine panners who were in a Toyota Wish armed with machetes, in connection with a robbery case at Mums Gold Mine in Gokwe North.

The following day, 10 police officers were deployed to escort the accused persons from Zenda Police Base to ZRP Nembudziya.

The police later received information that there were two commuter omnibuses full of armed artisanal miners from Kadoma on their way to rescue the arrested accused persons who are part of a gang known as Branco.

Within minutes, the two commuter omnibuses approached the police base.

“The accused persons who were numbering 40 and armed with machetes, axes, shovels, picks and knobkerries besieged the police base demanding the release of their colleagues,” Mr Chimwaradze told the court.

The accused persons, the court further heard, charged towards the vehicle which was still parked outside with the nine accused and attempted to open the doors so that their colleagues could escape.

They threatened to attack the cops if they did not obey their instructions.

As they moved closer, the police fired warning shots in the air ordering the accused persons to surrender but they did not comply.

Police eventually fired shots resulting in two members of the gang being seriously injured.

The rest of the members were arrested as they tried to flee.

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