THREE men crashed their employer’s kombi into a precast wall while fleeing from a crime scene after allegedly breaking into a bottle store in Bulawayo’s Matsheumhlope suburb and stealing an assortment of whisky brands, meat, fish, knives, a wrapping machine and a solar battery regulator among other items.
Knowledge Ndhlovu (28) of Pumula South connived with one Mike Mpofu who is still at large and Webster Muchena who has since died and went on a shop breaking spree targeting bottle stores and butcheries around Bulawayo.
Ndhlovu was arrested following the identification of the trio’s getaway car after it was involved in the accident as they fled, resulting in them abandoning it at the scene.
Ndhlovu and his accomplices allegedly broke into three premises on separate occasions and stole property worth more than $350 000.
Ndhlovu was arrested after a tip-off from the owner of the vehicle which he used to conduct his criminal activities. He is facing three counts of unlawful entry into premises in aggravating circumstances, two of theft and another of unlawful possession of articles for criminal use.
This emerged when Ndhlovu filed an appeal at the Bulawayo High Court challenging the refusal by Bulawayo magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya to release him on bail pending trial. In papers before the court, the State was cited as a respondent.
In his bail statement, Ndhlovu said there were no compelling reasons warranting his continued detention, arguing that he was not a flight risk.
He said the magistrate unjustifiably denied him bail without valid ground. Ndhlovu argued that there were irregularities that resulted in him being denied bail at the lower court.
“The court a quo misdirected itself by concluding that the appellant is a flight risk because the alleged accomplice is still at large. Appellants respectfully submits that the fact that the alleged accomplice is still at large should not be held against him,” argued Ndlovu’s lawyers.
“On the basis of that, appellant submits that his right to bail was erroneously denied and that no threat is posed to administration of justice by admitting him to bail.”
The State, which is being represented by Mr Khumbulani Ndlovu opposed the application arguing that the magistrate’s decision to deny Ndhlovu bail was premised on a strong prima facie case against him.
“The State managed to prove that there were compelling reasons to deny the appellant bail. It is submitted that the decision to deny the appellant bail is not a misdirection or irregularity,” he said.
“It is sound both on the facts and circumstances of the case and at law. Wherefore the respondent prays that the appellant’s appeal against the lower court’s order to refuse him bail be dismissed.”
According to court papers, it was stated that on July 15, Ndhlovu allegedly ganged up with his two accomplices, Mpofu who is still at large and Webster Muchena who is now deceased, and proceeded to White Rock Bottle Store in Matsheumhlope where they forced open a door and stole property.
The accused person and his accomplices were spotted at the scene by a security guard and they sped off using a commuter omnibus registration ADC 8798. While making their getaway, the accused persons crashed the car into a precast wall about 200 metres away from the scene and they dumped the vehicle and fled on foot.
The vehicle was recovered with some of the property and objects used for the crime.
Upon searching the vehicle, police found an angle grinder, a soldering iron, a metal crowbar, a black and yellow respirator, a two-metre long iron bar and a black woollen hat belonging to the accused persons. A follow-up was made through the owner of the vehicle which led to Ndhlovu’s arrest and he implicated his two accomplices and further confessed to have also stolen from Leeside Butchery, East 68 Pub and Grill and a business outlet in Belmont.