R500 000 looted from helicopter crash scene

GWANDA - Two suspected robbers, who were taken into police custody for allegedly looting R500 000 from a helicopter crash scene, have been freed.

Hardlife Tavona Mupaneshure, 27, and a 17-year-old boy were arrested after a tip-off that they picked belongings and money from the helicopter crash site.

When searched, the police recovered a Nokia mobile phone, a torch, two Vodacom sim cards and cash amounting R60 and $2.

Mupaneshure and the juvenile were hauled before the courts and Magistrate Sheila Nazombe freed the duo due to lack of evidence that the two suspects looted an unsubstantiated R500 000.

Nazombe said the two suspects should be released as Mazaka, who is alleged to have taken the lion’s share of the money, cannot be traced.

He said Mupaneshure and the teenager’s case would resume when police arrest Mazaka.

The court heard that Christian Malila Ndou was flying his helicopter around 6:30 am when it suddenly crashed in the Maphane area in rural Gwanda.

Mupaneshure, the juvenile and Mazaka are said to have been among the first people to arrive at the crash site where they found Ndou’s belongings strewn all over the bush.

It is alleged that they picked up a satchel, mobile phone charger, battery, two Nokia phones with Vodacom sim cards, battery torch and unknown amount of cash from the scene.

The state alleges Mazaka, Mapaneshure and the boy shared the property, each getting R800 and a Nokia cell phone.

But Mapaneshure and the boy accuse Mazaka of having taken more than the lion’s share of the suspected loot and disappeared.

A Nokia phone was also recovered from the juvenile who admitted picking up the phone but said he had returned the cash to the crash site after his mother had warned him.

The boy told the court that he had tried to hand over the cell phone to a neighbourhood watch committee member who refused to accept it.

The magistrate also said there was no evidence that Ndou had R500 000 with him, hence the court had to rely on facts and evidence.

The duo was cautioned against taking property that does not belong to them.

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