Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
PROMINENT Harare lawyer Admire Rubaya, who is among nine suspects facing charges of theft of nearly US$1 million worth of gold at Plumtree Police Station, had his bail reinstated by the Supreme Court after having spent 10 days in remand prison.
Rubaya and his co-accused Plumtree regional magistrate Timeon Tavengwa Makunde, Stanley Chinyanganya, who is the area public prosecutor, Dingumuzi Ncube, Tyson Ruvando, Godfrey Makuvadze, Ladislous Tamboonei and Detective Assistant Inspector Ladislous Tinacho, who is in charge of the ZRP Minerals and Border Control, had their bail revoked by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa after he discovered that one of their co-accused, Jefat Chaganda had faked his death to evade trial.
The suspects had each been out of custody on $300 bail pending trial.
They are facing theft charges, or alternatively obstructing the course of justice.
The ruling by Supreme Court judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi on Thursday follows Rubaya’s application for bail pending appeal against the lower court’s decision to incarcerate him.
In papers before the court, Rubaya, through his lawyer Advocate Thabani Mpofu who was instructed by Rubaya and Chatambudza Legal Practitioners, cited the State as a respondent.
Justice Mathonsi allowed the appeal for the relief sought after hearing arguments from both the defence and State counsel.
He said the decision by Justice Mabhikwa to revoke the applicant’s bail is capricious and arbitrary in the circumstances.
“It is ordered that the applicant be and hereby admitted to bail pending the finalisation of his appeal against the order of his incarceration issued on 23 June 2020 by the High Court sitting in Bulawayo. The same bail conditions imposed by the magistrate’s court sitting in Bulawayo shall continue to subsist,” ruled Justice Mathonsi.
Rubaya and his co-accused had their bail revoked after Chaganda’s lawyers, Nyikadzino, Simango and Associates, informed the court he had died, but failed to produce a death certificate, resulting in a warrant of arrest being issued against their client.
There are fears that Chaganda could have skipped the border. Police have since launched a manhunt for him.
The eight allegedly connived to steal the gold which was kept as an exhibit at Plumtree Police Station.
Before claims that he had died, Chaganda had been arrested in a Botswana-bound train while his accomplice Ncube, fled. The suspect took advantage of his temporary freedom to run away again.
According to court papers, it is alleged that the accused persons are behind the theft of gold weighing 28kg valued at US$970 000 from the Plumtree Police Station armoury through unlawful entry on July 7, 2018.
The offence came to light a week later when Chief Inspector Mangena, who was reporting for duty, noticed that two FN rifles which were booked in the charge office were not physically there in the armoury.
The gold was later intercepted by police leading to the arrest of Chaganda. He was found in unlawful possession of part of the stolen gold weighing 14kg which he intended to smuggle to Botswana.
The recovered gold was seized by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority and handed over to the police in Plumtree. It is alleged that the nine accused persons hatched a plan to steal the impounded gold and allegedly played various roles in the scheme.
When Chaganda appeared in court charged with unlawful possession and smuggling of gold, Ncube allegedly sought the services of one Vusumuzi Sayi who in turn contacted his friend, Kailos Moyo to secure the services of Lovemore Sibanda.
Sibanda’s documents for his Qalo Syndicate were fraudulently used in court to claim ownership of the seized gold.
Tinacho contacted Rubaya to represent Chaganda. Rubaya allegedly roped in Makunde and Chinyanganya to further their plan of stealing the gold.
Tamboonei, a police officer, gave false evidence in court under cross examination by Rubaya while Makunde and Chinyanganya, who were aware of the scam, allegedly adopted an armchair approach during the court proceedings. — @mashnets