THREE police officers, one of them a senior cop, who allegedly stole guns, more than 180 live bullets and an assortment of related weaponry from the police armoury, were yesterday released on $200 bail each.
David Fugao (age not given), the officer-in-charge of the ZRP provincial armoury in Matabeleland North, Wonder Tawanda Karamba (33), Francis Chaterera (39), who are both stationed at the armoury appeared before Bulawayo magistrate Mr Franklin Mkhwananzi yesterday facing charges of theft and criminal abuse of duty as public officers.
They were remanded out of custody to April 24 on $200 bail each. The trio was ordered to surrender passports and report twice a week at Khumalo Police Station as part of the bail conditions.
They were also ordered not to interfere with State witnesses and to reside at their given addresses until the matter is finalised.
The prosecutor, Mr Mufaro Mageza, said on March 23 detectives from the Criminal Investigations Department homicide section received information that there were suspicious movements of firearms at the armoury.
The court heard that the detectives through investigations found out that some police officers were removing firearms that are subject to a handover-takeover from the armoury to a backyard room.
This was discovered following the arrest of Fugao after he was implicated by a suspected armed robber Ame Mpala, who was arrested with an AK-47 rifle along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Road.
“When detectives arrived at the armoury they requested it be opened and a search was conducted in the presence of Karamba and Chaterera. It was discovered after the search that there were several firearms that had been stored in the armoury that did not match any recorded on official documents,” said Mr Mageza.
Some of the guns listed included Birmingham Sport Company rifles, Bore Winchester shotguns, a Bruno rifle, a Mouser long rifle, 303 Era rifle, Kregskorte rifle, Winchester rifle and a special revolver. They were also found with more than 185 different kinds of live bullets.
The court heard that when it was established that the accused persons had been allegedly receiving firearms for repairs at the station workshop, which is not consistent with their duties, they were arrested.
On the same day at around 7PM, detectives received a tip-off informing them that there was a suspicious package that had been stashed at a house in Thorngrove. Upon searching the house they found an assortment of weapons and ammunition.
Some of the guns discovered at the house included a Norinco pistol, Visor Pistol, FN pistol, Special Renato gamba revolver, an Astra revolver, Berretta pistol and an automatic pistol.
The detectives interrogated the owner of the house, Mrs Delighted Chingoyori, who revealed that Karamba had left a parcel containing the firearms at her house, stating that she had given him the keys to the garage where the parcel was for safe keeping.
Mr Reliance Ndou of Mugiya and Macharaga Law Chambers is representing the accused persons.