By Mary Taruvinga
A JUNIOR officer with the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Tapiwa Mangoma (27) who landed in the dock for accommodating a terror gang, whose members had been on the run for over 20 years, has been denied bail at the High Court.
Mangoma is also accused of supplying the gang with ammunition to commit crimes.
He is jointly charged with gang leader Musa Taj Abdul (47), Liberty Mupamhanga (29), Prince Makodza (31), Godfrey Mupamhanga (27), Charles Lundu (47), Rudolf Kanhanga, (29) and Innocent Jairos (32).
They were arrested following a fierce shoot-out with police at Mangoma’s residence in Dulibadzimu, Beitbridge in August this year.
However, High Court judge Erica Ndewere ruled that the fact that the suspects were arrested while at Mangoma’s residence weighed heavily against him.
“The court’s conclusion was that there is a strong link between the applicant and the offence in that the pistol used in the robberies was recovered from his laundry basket. His admitted knowledge and association with accomplices who were connected to the offences is another connection,” Ndewere ruled.
“Even if his alibi was confirmed, the fact remained that he supplied a weapon for use in the armed robberies and, therefore, acted in common purpose with those who physically attended to robbery scenes.
“The State’s fears that he will abscond have merit given the applicant’s proximity to the border and the fact that six of his accomplices are established residents of that country (South Africa).”
Ndewere also said Mangoma could use his influence as a police officer and interfere with evidence.
The judge noted that six of the suspects have dual residences in Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“The fact that some of his accomplices have not yet been arrested is an additional factor which is against the applicant’s release at this stage because if released, he may team up with his colleagues and commit further crimes,” said the judge.
The incarcerated gang has been linked to a number of high profile heists which occurred at Mashwede Holdings headquarters in Harare, Makoni Shopping Centre in Chitungwiza, Blue Circle in Harare and Glen Norah B in Harare and the Marlborough also in Harare shoot-out.
Police are also still investigating some of the unsolved cases.