Friday, 28 February 2020


THE officer-in-charge of CID Gweru, Detective Inspector Leonard Gwandu, facing criminal abuse of office charges for allegedly releasing a vehicle stolen from South Africa held by the police as an exhibit, yesterday applied for discharge at the end of the State case.

Gwandu appeared before Gweru Regional Magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa on charges of criminal abuse of office.

Through his lawyer Mr Nomore Hlabano, Gwandu pleaded not guilty to the charge and was remanded to March 13 on $1 000 bail. Mrs Msipa is expected on that date to make a ruling on the application made by Mr Hlabano.

Mr Hlabano told the court that the State, led by Ms Namatirai Chipere, had failed to prove its case of criminal abuse of office against his client and hence his reason for application for discharge.

He said the State failed to provide documentation from Interpol and Toyota South Africa to show that the vehicle was allegedly stolen and smuggled into the country.

Mr Hlabano added that the State, aware of the existence of such important documentation, did not provide it to the court. 

Last week, State witness, Detective Sergeant Mlabeni Sibanda said Gwandu released the stolen Toyota Hilux double cab valued at US$27 000 to Kwekwe businessman Shepherd Tundiya who had bought it from a Harare car dealer.

Det Sgt Sibanda said it was communicated to Gwandu that there were 10 such stolen South African registered vehicles and Toyota South Africa and its clients were making follow ups.

Of the 10 vehicles, Det Sgt Sibanda said two were in Gweru including the one which was released to Mr Tundiya by Gwandu.

The court heard that releasing the stolen vehicle showed favour to Mr Tundiya since Gwandu had information to the effect that the vehicle had been stolen and smuggled into the country.

Det Sgt Sibanda said: “There are 10 such vehicles stolen in South Africa which are being tracked by Toyota South Africa. Two of these vehicles are in Gweru and the others are scattered around the country.

“We had made an appointment with Toyota South Africa together with its customers whose vehicles were stolen from them so that they come and identify the vehicles for possible repatriation to South Africa. This vehicle in question was supposed to be released to Toyota South Africa instead of Tundiya.”
The State alleges that on December 14, last year, Gwandu released a Toyota Hilux valued at US$27 000, which was confiscated from Mr Tundiya after it was discovered that it had been stolen from South Africa.

Allegations are that Mr Tundiya, who had been arrested on October 16 last year in connection with the motor vehicle, was acquitted at the Gweru Magistrates Court on December 13.

The following day Gwandu allegedly released the stolen vehicle to the businessman without following due procedure.

The State further alleges that the car was stolen in South Africa from one Thomas Blom of CMH Toyota and was being investigated by Alberton Police Station in South Africa under case number 233/11/2017.

 The State said the vehicle was supposed to be handed to South African police but the accused person handed it to Mr Tundiya. Chronicle


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