Beitbridge Businesswoman Cleared Of Vehicle Theft Charges
25 October 2023
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By A Correspondent| Harare Magistrate Lazini Ncube has cleared Beitbridge businesswoman Tapiwa Hillary Moyo of allegations of stealing a Range Rover Lumar from Godwin Mhishi.

According to the state, Mhishi reportedly grabbed the vehicle from Moyo and two other Range Rovers while name dropping the President’s name and using senior cops as a way to pin her for failing to deliver the ethanol.

In a bid to keep possession of the vehicles, Mhishi allegedly claimed that Moyo had sold them to him, claims Moyo disputed.

Moyo told the court that the vehicle was taken from her through extortion and she even opened a case against Mhishi before repossessing the vehicle.

Mhishi then went on and made a counter report against Moyo claiming she had stolen the vehicle from him resulting in her arrest along the Harare – Beitbridge Road and subsequent appearance in court.

Before the court, Moyo denied the theft of motor vehicle allegations and her lawyer Admire Rubaya made an application for discharge at the close of the State’s case resulting in her acquittal.

Rubaya argued that all the papers surrounding the vehicles show that Moyo was entitled to possess the vehicles and that they could not be sold.

He added that force was used to grab the vehicles as Mhishi wanted compensation for the ethanol deal that went sour.

Presiding magistrate Lazini Ncube disputed suggestions by Mhishi that the vehicles were sold to him and also observed that from the circumstances, it is highly believable that the vehicle was forcibly taken from her.

“It is also common cause that the motor vehicles were South African registered and were brought in under TIP (Temporary Import Permits). The vehicles were registered in the names of Tarwirei FR. According to the conditions of the TIP, the vehicles could not be sold or disposed of.

“The accused was the only person who was authorised to possess and control the said vehicle whilst in Zimbabwe. It is therefore highly probable that the accused did not sell the vehicles in question to the complaint as the terms and conditions of TIP did not allow sell of the same. The accused’s assertions that the complainant unlawfully took the motor vehicles from her using force regard being the circumstances of this matter is highly likely,” the court said.

The court also commented on the extortion case which Moyo reportedly made against Mhishi stating that it is possible that he gave Moyo directions to his place to collect the vehicle having realised that the case had not been withdrawn.

“It is not in dispute that such report (extortion) was made. It was further stated that the extortion report against the complainant was made earlier than the report for theft against the accused.

“The accused stated that upon realising that a report for extortion had been made against him and that it had not been withdrawn, the complainant directed her to his residence to collect the vehicle. The vehicle was then collected from the complainant’s place. At the time the vehicle was taken, the complainant was in South Africa. The accused could only have gone there upon being given the location of the place by the complainant. It can not be ruled out that the complainant directed her
to his place of residence where she collected the vehicle,” the magistrate said.

The court said from the circumstances, the State failed to establish a prima facie case against Moyo and that nothing points to any criminal offence and that no reasonable court can convict based on the evidence.

“Having regard to the initial transactions that were entered into by the complainant and accused and the circumstances of
this matter, it is apparent that this is more of a civil matter than a criminal matter.”

“There was breach of contract as the ethanol was not delivered as agreed between the parties. This is the reason why at some point under cross exam, the complainant admitted that he took vehicles as compensation. It is apparent that
he wanted to be compensated for the money paid for ethanol which was not delivered.”

If ever the accused took the vehicle which was in his possession and without his consent as he wants this court to believe he should have sought spoliatory relief against the accused.

“It is therefore this court’s inding that the state failed to establish a prima facie case against the accused for her to be put on her defence. Resultantly, the accused is found not guilty and discharged at the close of the state case,” the court ruled.