Zvikomborero Parafini, Court Reporter
Suspected robber Musa Taj Abdul and his eight accomplices have been jailed four years each for illegal possession of a firearm and ammunition.
Abdul and his accomplices Liberty Mupamhanga, Prince Makodza, Godfrey Mupamhanga, Charles Lundu, Rudolph Kanhanga, Innocent Jairos, Tapiwa Mangoma and Carrington Marasha were convicted after a full trial on Tuesday by Harare provincial magistrate Barbra Mateko.
They were sentenced to four years in prison with three years effective following the suspension of one year on condition that they don’t commit offences involving illegal possession of firearms and ammunition in the next five years.
In her reasons for sentencing, Mateko said while some of them are first offenders, the court could not turn a blind eye to the ballistic report that showed that the weapon had been used in numerous armed robberies across the country.
“The court has been informed of their personal circumstances, some of them are married men who have responsibilities to take care of their spouses and children while some are first offenders who should ordinarily be given second chances to reform.
“Justice must be blended with mercy and the Court must decide what sort of punishment is appropriate whether is it to deter the offender, protect the public, reimburse the offended or a blend of all and the court in its understanding of issues at hand realised that each matter must be dealt with on its own merits.
“Unlawful possession of a firearm and ammunition is a crime and one should have a licence which is like a tracking system of who owns a firearm and for what use it should be used so that people don’t use firearms willy-nilly,” she said.
Mateko went on to refer to the ballistic report that was tendered during trial as exhibit number four which indicated that the firearm in question had been used in several robberies and said that alone was aggravatory in her sentence.
“The court cannot turn a blind eye to the ballistic findings that the weapon had been used in armed robberies across the country and in as much as the court cannot state that it was these accused persons who committed the offences, that fact is aggravatory.
“The court is disturbed by Mangoma’s behaviour and as a police officer it was his duty as a police officer not to protect accused persons who were on the homicide wanted list in his home
“The public is supposed protected and have faith in the police force but they certainly cannot have confidence in such police officers, and in the circumstances, a fine and non-custodial sentence would be inappropriate.
“Abdul and Lundu are repeated offenders, Abdul was convicted since 1989 for indecent assault and theft of motor vehicle and judicial notice has been taken that he is not a stranger in this court.
“It’s disturbing that they were found in possession of a firearm that was used in crimes and it is the court’s duty to protect the public and cannot turn a blind eye that offenses of this nature are on the rise and with those factors a custodial sentence has to be considered because they failed to justify their meeting at that house in Beitbridge.
“Each accused person is sentenced to 4 years in prison with one year suspended on condition that for the 5 next years they don’t commit an offense that involves the illegal use of firearms and ammunition, the firearm and ammunition are hereby forfeited by the state and will be used in other cases involving the accused persons,” she said.
Francesca Mukumbiri appeared for the State.