Crime and Courts

Fawcett boss acquitted, two jailed for US$305k robbery

MARTIN MAWAYA

GWERU-Zvishavane Regional Magistrate Rumbidzai Mugwagwa has acquitted one of the Fawcett security company employees in charge of cash-in-transit, while the other two have been convicted for ambushing and robbing the security company of US$305,290.00 cash.

Langelihle Moyo (43) was freed after a full trial and spending three years in remand prison, with Bongani Mapfumo (30), a Fawcett driver, and his accomplice Blessing Lizhu (39), who was not employed by Fawcett, were each sentenced to 11 years in prison.

However, Magistrate Mugwagwa suspended one year for good behavior and another four years on condition that each of them restitute Fawcett security company with USD 134 255 by August 29, 2024.

Delivering the sentence, Magistrate Mugwagwa said, “The suspended four years will be added to the effective six years in prison if the two fail to pay restitution to Fawcett as directed by the courts”.

She further asserted that the state had proven its case beyond any reasonable doubt, demonstrating that Mapfumo and Lizhu had conspired to rob the Fawcett security cash-in-transit vehicle and got away with a pistol at the 243km peg along Gweru-Harare Highway near Connemara.

The magistrate added that there was no incriminating evidence to prove that Moyo was part of the robbery plan or gang.

She ordered that the recovered USD18 780 be returned to Fawcett.

Prior to the sentencing, Prosecutor Vivien Chindedza argued that the court should send a strong message to would-be criminals by imposing a stiffer penalty.

She described the robbery as a premeditated and brazen act, characterized by inherent callousness.

“The offenders have been convicted with a very serious crime of robbery which was committed in aggravating circumstances. It was no ordinary robbery as the perpetrators used riffles to threaten the lives of the security guards and heavily assaulted them,” she said.

“The robbery was contemptuous and degrading to the victims, and the accused have shown no remorse. Therefore, there is a need for severe punishment,” added Chindedza.

The state counsel added that the incident has left the victims with physical and emotional scars as well as jeopardizing the future of their dependents as they had lost employment.

It was the state case that on November 25, 2021 along Harare-Bulawayo Road near Connemara Open Prison, Mapfumo connived with Lizhu and four accused persons still at large to ransack Fawcett vehicle loaded with Cash.

The court heard that Lizhu and his accomplices produced an AK47 rifle and a CZ pistol, pointed them to Fawcett security officers Emmanuel Nhamo and Thomas Chisambatsi while ordering them to remain silent.

They then hit Nhamo with a spanner several times on the head, since he was refusing to cooperate, while another accused with a Tonga accent used a metal object to hit Chisambatsi on the head.

The gang used a spanner to unlock the three cash box locks and started to load the money into their bags.

The court heard that Lizhu and his gang jumped off the vehicle, force marched Mapfumo and Moyo to the back of the vehicle with their hands tied from the back.

During that time one of the accused persons took over the car and drove into the nearby bush.

The court heard that Moyo then phoned Israel Mberengwa one of his superiors at Fawcett Bulawayo office informing him about the robbery.

However, upon further interrogations by the police, Mapfumo who reported that they had been robbed by the police at the road block, changed his statement and implicated Lizhu as one of the robbers.

On November 26, 2021 Lizhu was then apprehended in Bulawayo after he called his wife Josephine Ndlovu to bring US$18 780-00 cash which was confiscated by the state together with Itel phone used to communicate in the commission of the crime.

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