A MAN who admitted to being part of a gang of thieves who allegedly broke into several houses in Bulawayo and stole household goods worth nearly $120 000, yesterday stunned a packed courtroom when he said the other three people who were arrested with him were not his accomplices.
There was a moment of silence at the Western Commonage Magistrate Courts when Tawanda Gumbomunda (23) said police had arrested the wrong people as his accomplices were still at large.
The other three people who were arrested with Gumbomunda are Prince Ncube (19), Qinisani Tshuma (24) and Gabriel Ncube (25).
The four allegedly broke into Mr Geneva Sibanda’s home in North End suburb while he was away in Victoria Falls and stole household property worth $46 000.
Gumbomunda told magistrate Ms Tancy Dube that he did not know the men he was jointly charged with.
“Your Worship, l plead guilty to unlawful entry and theft but to my surprise the men that l committed the offences with are not here. I don’t know the men I’m being jointly charged with,” he said.
Ncube, Tshuma and Gabriel pleaded not guilty to theft and unlawful entry and the magistrate remanded them in custody to October 15 for continuation of trial.
The trio told the court that they had previously admitted to committing the crime because police officers had assaulted them and they feared being assaulted again.
However, the investigating officer, Constable John Mugabe, said Gumbomunda was lying.
“Your Worship, accused Number One is trying to protect his friends. They stay together in Cowdray Park that’s where I found them with their house fully packed with stolen property. They have many pending cases of unlawful entry and theft,” he said.
“During the same month, the gang broke into another house in the same suburb and stole household property worth $69 000 when the owner was away in Germany.”
Prosecuting, Mr Tapiwa Solani said on August 22 this year at around 12AM, the gang allegedly broke down Mr Sibanda’s door to gain entry into his house and stole property worth $49 000. “While inside the house, the accused persons stole a refrigerator, PA system, four suitcases with clothes, an electric jar, microwave, speakers, 35-inch television set, television stand, 21 plates, two DVD players and blankets,” he said.
During the same month, the gang proceeded to another house in the same suburb where they took a water pump, two refrigerators, carpets, curtains, two television sets, clothes, garden chairs and cell phones while the owner of the house was in Germany.
Mr Solani said the gang was caught by Mr Sibanda’s neighbour stealing property and he alerted the police.
“Mr Sibanda’s neighbour heard some noises at the complainant’s place and went to see what was happening. He saw a silver Toyota vehicle parked at the complainant’s gate and the accused persons were busy loading the stolen property. When they realised that they had been seen, they immediately drove off,” he said.
The suspects were arrested while they were trying to sell the stolen property in Cowdray Park suburb after an anonymous tip-off.