By A Correspondent- Two detectives from CID Bindura appeared in court yesterday on allegations of extorting money from a suspected armed robber whom they had helped secure bail, but then started demanding more money until in the end he went to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission who set the trap that led to their arrest.
Detective Constable Petros Kambalazaza and Detective Assistant Inspector Elvis Magaya appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court charged with extortion.
They were not asked to plead to the charges when they appeared before Harare regional magistrate Mrs Vongai Guwuriro, who remanded Kambalazaza to Monday for his bail application while Magaya was granted $50 000 bail.
They allegedly initially extorted US$1 000 from suspected robber Godfrey Chimupanje of Katarira, Mutyoramwendo village under Chief Chiswiti and then while he was on bail tried to extort more. The State led by Mr Zebadiah Bofu alleges that on December 7 last year Kambalazaza, Magaya and a third officer identified only as detective Charuma, and who apparently was not involved in the later extortion, arrested Chimupanje on allegations of robbery and they took him to CID Bindura for questioning.
On December 12 the two now charged took him to Bindura Magistrates Court for initial remand where he was remanded in custody to December 23. But the next day, December 13, Kambalazaza and Magaya visited Chimupanje at Bindura remand prison where they booked him out for indications, a normal police procedure at this point.
But then the two allegedly became bent coppers. They took him to CID Bindura offices, where they did not get out of the car but allegedly told him that they could make the charges vanish if he gave them US$1 000.
Chimupanje told them he could not get the money and could not phone his wife since investigators had taken his wife’s phone. The two police detectives told him to call his mother-in-law so that he could speak to his wife and ask her for money.
Kambalazaza allegedly called Chimupanje’s wife who promised to get the money two days later on December 15. Kambalazaza then told Chimupanje’s wife that he would take him back to remand prison until she was able to get the money for her husband.
It is alleged that Chimupanje’s two wives later contributed US$400, which they took to the two cops.
Chimupanje was booked from Bindura remand prison and taken to Kambalazaza’s office at CID Bindura where the wives handed over the US$400.
Kambalazaza told them not to disclose the amount to his colleagues as he wanted to pocket US$200 and share the remainder with others. Kambalazaza then promised Chimupanje’s wives that he would arrange for his release.
On the same day at around 2pm, Kambalazaza booked Chimupanje from remand prison and took him to Bindura Magistrates Court, where he was granted bail and was remanded to December 23.
On December 22, Kambalazaza called Chimupanje and advised him to bring the balance when he attended court. Still paying the bribe in installments, Chimupanje gave the detectives US$300 on Decembet 23 and was remanded to January 10 this year.
The day before that routine remand, January 9, Kambalazaza allegedly called Chimupanje demanding the final installment of US$300 the next day. Chimupanje told him he did not have the money but could get it around 2pm on the same day.
The court heard that on January 26 Kambalazaza called the Chimupanje reminding him to bring his balance. He was remanded to February 28.
At the next remand the two detectives called asking where he was and he told them that he was in Harare.
They later met him at the court gate and they angrily asked why he had lied and told him to get into their car.
They told him that as punishment they were preparing summons for him to reappear in court since he had no money. They allegedly made him sign a document indicating that he would appear in court on March 15.
The court heard that they searched his pockets and took his personal documents and warned him that if he did not bring the money they now wanted they would ensure that he languished in remand prison.
They allegedly went further and threatened him that if he failed to bring the money, they would stage a robbery and plant his identity documents at the scene to incriminate him for the robbery.
Chimupanje promised to sell his stand to ensure that he gave them the money and they agreed to let him go.
On March 15 Chimupanje reported the alleged extortion to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission.
On March 28 a trap was set leading to the arrest of the two detectives.