By Mary Taruvinga
A CONVICT on Monday vanished from Harare magistrate’s court cells soon after he was slapped with a 15-year jail term for raping a suspected 40-year-old hooker.
Emmanuel Sibanda (26) was sentenced to 15 years of which three were suspended conditionally by Harare magistrate, Morgan Nemadire.
Reports say an officer who was manning Nemadire’s court officially handed the convict to the officer in charge of the cells.
His absence was only noticed during roll call before a thorough search was conducted at the court to no avail.
The authorities later brought sniffer dogs and searched the entire building and court grounds but could not locate him.
Sibanda was dressed in khakhi prison garb and it remains a mystery how he managed to escape without being noticed considering there are security officers always on guard at the cells exit.
Some officials who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com suspect officers assisted the convict to escape.
Prisons spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Elizabeth Banda confirmed the incident.
“Emanuel Sibanda, a convicted male inmate escaped from lawful custody at Harare Magistrates Court on Monday 10 September 2018. It was observed at 1300hrs that the inmate was missing following a routine body check,” she said.
Asked to comment on allegations that prisons officers could be involved in Sibanda’s escape, Banda said investigations to ascertain the circumstances were being carried out.
“We can only comment once the investigations are completed. Efforts are being made to bring back the inmate into lawful custody.
“This has since been reported to the relevant authorities (ZRP). The ZPCS encourages anyone with information on the whereabouts of Emmanuel Sibanda to contact the Public Relations office on +263 2 706501 – 4 or the nearest police station.
“The ZPCS continues to uphold high correctional standards,” said Banda.
Sibanda was convicted after a full trial in which he denied the alleged offence.
Prosecuting, Ephraim Zinyandu proved that he raped a 40-year-old Mbare woman after offering her transport on August 7 this year.
Zinyandu proved it was around 5 am when the complainant was looking for transport to go to Mbare Musika Market.
Court heard Sibanda told the lady that he was going to town and could drop her by the market.
He however diverted the route and drove to an area called Mushongandebvu in Mbare where he parked his vehicle by the roadside.
Sibanda then told the complainant to comply with his orders before he raped her once without using protection.
After committing the crime, he drove the complainant to corner Mhlanga and Adbernie Road in Mbare where he dropped her.
She however managed to capture Sibanda’s car registration number before she reported the case.
A check was conducted at Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) leading to Sibanda’s arrest.
It was Sibanda’s defence that he did not rape the complainant.
He told court that on the day in question, the woman was hired by one of his friends for sexual services.
He said he refused to drive around with her in his car as she was older than him and his friends adding that it was embarrassing to be seen hanging around with an older woman.
Sibanda told court this angered the complainant who went on to frame him.