Monday, 21 December 2020

FREED ROBBER GOES ON THE RUN

Suspected armed robber Douglas Mutenda, who was released on bail after law officer Mr Douglas Chesa consented to bail on December 8, is now on the run.

Mutenda is facing several counts of armed robberies and was released on $5 000 bail on December 9 when the State consented on the basis that some of his co-accused were out on bail.

But he failed to turn up on Friday for routine remand and Harare magistrate Mrs Judith Taruvinga issued the warrant of arrest.

Mutenda was supposed to stand trial for his armed robbery charges on February 17 next year with co-accused Prince Makodza, Carrington Marasha, Liberty Mupanhanga, Godfrey Mupamhanga, Spicer Takawira and Musafare Mupanhanga.

On January 21 next year, Mutenda was supposed to be tried at Harare magistrates’ court on other armed robbery charges with Eddison Mashamhanda, Spicer Takawira, Prince Makodza, Musafare Mupanhanga, Nevanji Madanhire, Christopher Mashamhanda and Dudzai Chidangwara.

Mutenda was also expected to appear in court on December 30 for routine remand on similar charges with Musa Taj Abdul, Musafare Mupamhanga, Godfrey Mupanhanga, Spicer Takawira, Carrington Marasha, Benjamin Chitunhu and Conwell Kasambarare.

Mutenda was initially denied bail when he applied at the High Court on October 20 this year.

The State led by Mr Chesa opposed the application, arguing that they had a very strong case against him.

Mr Chesa also told the court that Mutenda had led to recoveries of some of the stolen items, that there was a CCTV footage that showed him at the crime scene, that his accomplices implicated him and there were phone calls linking him to the offence, all of which left the prosecution with a very strong case against him.

High Court Judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi dismissed Mutenda’s bail application on grounds that he was likely to abscond and that he was facing a serious offence.

Barely a month after his bail application was dismissed at the High Court, Mutenda engaged a different lawyer and approached the same court, and went before a different judge.

New lawyer Mrs Concilia Maheya made a fresh bail application citing changed circumstances on December 8. In that application, Mutenda argued that his co-accused, Musafare Mupanhanga, Spicer Takawira, Benjamin Chitunhu and Conwell Kasambarare, had been granted bail.

He also argued that he had no pending cases as the State had alleged. Mr Chesa responded to the fresh bail application on the same day consenting.

“The present application is based on changed circumstances, which the respondent (State) is of the view that they tilt the scales in favour of the applicant,” he said.

“In the initial application, neither the then legal representative nor the investigating officer who gave oral evidence in court told the court that there were other accused persons who are facing the same charges, already on remand and are out on bail.

“The applicant (Mutenda) is linked to the commission of the offence through implication by his co-accused. He was arrested at his home and no recoveries were made from him. Further, no formal identification parade was conducted to allow the respective victims to finger the applicants as having been part of the gang that committed the offence. The only probable link being the CCTV coverage and call history of his cell phone.”

Mr Chesa said in his consent papers that issues of the CCTV and call history were to be tested and determined during trial.

He said there was need to have proof from the police on whether Mutenda was on the run or not, as there was no evidence presented before the court in that regard.

Justice Benjamin Chikowore, acting on Mr Chesa’s consent, granted Mutenda bail on December 9, a day after he made his application. Herald

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