Cop convicted of stealing mbanje

HARARE - A 54-year-old Harare cop has been convicted for stealing a sack of mbanje, which was part of a consignment being taken to court as an exhibit.

Magistrate Anita Tshuma yesterday ruled that evidence against Shadreck Chingoma Mutota was overwhelming.
“State managed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt,” Tshuma said.

According to State papers, Mutota had been in the police force for the past 31 years and stationed at CID studios in Harare as a photographer. He stole the sack weighing 33kg worth $3 300, before hiding it in his office.

The 54-year-old’s lawyer Everson Chadambuka pleaded with the court for a non-custodial sentence, arguing that Mutota was his family’s sole breadwinner.

He said a custodial sentence was tantamount to sentencing Mutota to death, considering the country’s harsh prison conditions juxtaposed with his age.

Prosecutors told the court that on May 15, this year, an officer released exhibits comprising of 21 bags of mbanje stashed in 90 kg-sacks, one, 50kg-sack and three carrier bags from the exhibit room in transit to court.

The court heard the exhibit officer ordered general-hand workers at Harare Central Police Station to assist CID Drugs detectives to carry the sacks to a police vehicle that was parked in the yard that would take the exhibits to the Harare Magistrates’ Court.

It is the State’s case that Mutota joined in without being invited and carried two sacks on different occasions.

The court heard he took one of the sacks to the vehicle before stealing the other sack.

It was later discovered that one sack was missing and investigations were launched, leading to Mutota’s arrest.

This was after two detectives proceeded to CID studios where a search was conducted in Mutota’s office and a sack was recovered in a built-in cupboard covered with his dust coat.

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