By Mary Taruvinga
A HARARE court has acquitted a Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) corporal accused of stealing 119 laptops, three desktop computers and accessories belonging to former President Robert Mugabe.
Pepukai Zvakavapano was recently freed by Harare magistrate Josephine Sande who ruled that the State failed to prove how the presidential guard soldier stole the computers.
“The is no evidence directly linking the accused to the offence of theft despite that he was caught in possession of some of the stolen property,” said the magistrate.
“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,” ruled the magistrate.
Zvakavapano was also cleared on another charge of unlawful entry. He was however, fined $200 for possessing stolen property.
The soldier was acquitted after a full trial which saw Mugabe giving testimony from his private Blue Roof mansion.
The veteran leader testified after Zvakavapano had claimed Mugabe gave him the laptops as a token of appreciation for good service, a claim denied by former strongman.
Prosecuting, Francesca Mukumbiri told court that the theft occurred after Mugabe’s property was moved to Harare’s Polo grounds as his house was being renovated.
The property, including the computers, was packed into five shipping containers which were reportedly secured by padlocks.
The State alleged that on April 3 last year, Zvakavapano was on duty guarding the containers together with an alleged accomplice who is also a soldier and was only identified as Marega.
The duo allegedly connived to steal the goods and broke the padlocks securing the containers before stealing the laptops and accessories.
Court heard the two later shared the loot and recruited agents who sold the stolen property in the city centre.
Police investigations led to recovery of a laptop which being sold in a shop at Nhaka House in central Harare.
Voster Chigede, who was selling the laptop, led detectives to one Tawanda Edson Musekiwa who claimed to have bought the computer from Zvakavapano.
Only nine laptops were recovered after Zvakavapano’s arrest.