Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A POLICE officer who was part of an elite arm of the force was sentenced to 12 years in jail for raiding a Total service station in Bulawayo last month and getting away with $158 and a cellphone belonging to a petrol attendant.
Amos Hlori (38) a sergeant in the crack Police Special Tactics Troop in the ZRP Support Unit stationed at Fairbridge Police Camp was on Wednesday convicted of armed robbery by Bulawayo regional magistrate Mrs Sibongile Marondedze.
Hlori was sentenced to 12 years in jail of which six years were suspended for five years on condition that he does not within that period commit a similar offence.
He was the lone AK47-rifle wielding robber who hit the service station on February 8 and got away with $158 and a cellphone. Hlori was tracked through the cellphone he had stolen.
In passing the sentence, Mrs Marondedze said armed robbery cases were prevalent in the country and called for stiffer sentences.
“Armed robbery is a very serious offence, which is now prevalent in the country. In aggravation, this offence was committed by a person who was a police officer who was mandated to protect the society. He was expected to be a law abiding citizen who was supposed to lead by example by arresting those who break the law. Instead of doing that, he became a criminal himself,” she said.
Mrs Marondedze said Hlori is a danger to himself and society and ought to be removed from society for a long time.
Prosecuting, Miss Caroline Matanga said on January 7 this year, Hlori booked out from ZRP Support Unit Fairbridge armoury, an AK47 rifle serial number 2399 for official use. On the same day, he was deployed to Tshitshi ZRP Support Unit base in Plumtree with other cops for patrol duty.
The court heard that on February 7, Hlori left his station and travelled to Bulawayo. The following day shortly after 3AM he went to the Total service station situated at corner Robert Mugabe Way and 10th Avenue, Bulawayo’s central business district.
“When he arrived at the service station, Hlori who was armed with the rifle found the complainant Mr Munyaradzi Mujajati, a petrol attendant who was alone. The accused person pointed a gun at the complainant and demanded money,” said Miss Matanga.
Upon seeing the gun, the complainant ran into the office at the same time pressing a panic button. He closed the door and held it from inside blocking Hlori from entering the office.
“Hlori tried to pull the door from outside and failed. He fired a single shot and missed the complainant forcing him to let go of the door,” said the prosecutor.
Hlori got inside the office and demanded cash from the complainant who surrendered $158. The cop also took the petrol attendant’s cellphone valued at $100 and fled from the scene.
Security guards from Fawcett Security response team arrived 10 minutes later and the matter was reported to police who attended the scene. They recovered a spent cartridge and closed circuit television (CCTV) video footage which captured Hlori as he committed the robbery.