Presidential guard soldier acquitted of stealing Mugabe's computers

HARARE - A member of the Presidential Guard accused of stealing 119 laptops, three desktop computers and accessories belonging to former president Robert Mugabe has been acquitted.

Pepukai Zvakavapano, 32, who was said to have broken into Zimbabwe House in early April last year, was freed by Harare magistrate Josephine Sande who ruled that the State failed to prove how he stole the computers.

Sande also cleared Zvakavapano on the unlawful entry charge, and fined him $200 for possessing stolen property.

“The court is of the view that the State failed to prove its case and the accused is hereby found not guilty and acquitted on the theft charge.”

Zvakavapano’s release comes after a full trial, with Mugabe testifying from his home as well.

During the trial, Zvakavapano claimed that he was given the items by Mugabe, and yet in his statement to police, he said he had picked the items from a bin at Zimbabwe House.

Allegations were that sometime in April last year, when Nyakurima received an order to transfer Mugabe’s personal belongings from Zimbabwe House and store them in five shipping containers close to the polo grounds to allow for renovations at the State property.

In the course of his patrol duties, Zvakavapano allegedly broke the padlocks on three of the containers and stole seven computer monitors, CPUs, keyboards, mouses, pads, 57 Inspur model laptops, 44 large and small Lenovo laptops, 18 HP printers, four Sahara and Mercer complete desktop computer sets and two Xerox printers.

Zvakavapano is said to have shared the loot with an accomplice identified as Marega. 

Police investigations led to recovery of a laptop which was being sold in a shop at Nhaka Parade in central Harare, which led to the arrest of Zvakavapano. Only nine laptops were recovered.

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