3 rogue Zimbabwe Republic Police(ZRP) officers are in serious trouble after authorities learnt that the trio pointed a loaded firearm to a 10-year-old girl in a bid to recover bribe money from her parents.
The cops threatened to shoot the farm girl together with her parents after the minor picked up their plastic bag containing “bribe” money hidden in a rubbish pit.
The trio who were working at a roadblock near Manyame River along the Harare-Masvingo road allegedly pointed the firearm at the victims to instill fear in them and handcuffed them before threatening to assault them with a baton in an effort to recover their loot.
The three cops later appeared before a police tribunal and were convicted after a full trial in terms of the Police Act and each sentenced to 14 days imprisonment at the detention barracks.
Prior to the applicants being charged in terms of the Police Act, they had already been charged in terms of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act before the charges were withdrawn before a Harare magistrate due to lack of evidence.
This emerged when the three police officers, only identified as Assistant Inspector Mahleka, Sergeant Ndlovu and Constable Hamadziripi, through their lawyer Mr Norman Mugiya of Mugiya and Macharaga Law Chambers, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court seeking an order nullifying their conviction and sentence.
They cited the trial officer, Superintendent Donald Robson and Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga, as respondents.
Former High Court judge, Justice Francis Bere, now on the Supreme Court bench, dismissed their application and condemned their conduct.
Justice Bere said evidence tendered before the disciplinary hearing suggested that it sustains a criminal conviction against the three cops.
“There is no sound reason why the criminal prosecution has not been pursued to finality. I strongly recommend that the Prosecutor-General revisit this case if it had been closed for lack of evidence. The evidence of criminal conduct is there in abundance,” he said.
Justice Bere said there was nothing wrong with a police officer being charged in terms of the criminal law and then being disciplined in terms of the Police Act.
The three police officers said they were not supposed to have been subjected to a disciplinary hearing after being tried in a fully fledged criminal trial, arguing that it was tantamount to double prosecution.
According to court papers, it was stated that sometime in December 2013, the three police officers were assigned to man a roadblock near Manyame River along the Harare-Masvingo road.
Not far from where the three cops were manning their roadblock, the 10-year-old girl from nearby Gilstone Farm in Beatrice picked up a plastic bag at a dumpsite and took it home.
Upon opening the bag, the girl’s mother discovered that it contained money in several denominations of various currencies. The money was wrapped up separately in khaki and white paper.
It later turned out that the “parcel” which was picked by the girl had been hidden in the dumpsite by the three cops.
Upon discovering that their money was missing, the three police officers went to the farm where they allegedly pulled out their service rifle and threatened to shoot their suspects.
They allegedly handcuffed the girl and her parents and threatened to assault them with a baton stick in the event that the money was not recovered.
Out of fear, the suspects returned the money.