Shakespeare Muzavazi

Two Bulawayo High Court judges have set aside a seven month sentence of two public officers for accepting a bribe in order to get a rape suspect out of police custody.

Kudakwashe Ndebele (34) and Welcome Phiri (38) were sentenced by Magistrate Chibanda sitting at Gweru court and sentenced to seven months imprisonment.

They were both facing charges of criminal abuse of duty as public officers as defined in Section 174(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act chapter 9:23.

The state case was that Ndebele and Phiri, a Whawha prison officer and a court interpreter respectively, intentionally received US$200 from Innocencia Murakwani to facilitate the release of Admire Gambiza from custody by either granting him bail or withdrawing charges of rape that he was facing.

Gambiza had appeared at Gweru Magistrate`s court and remanded in custody. Through his lawyer, Ms Duve, he applied for bail pending trial which was not granted.
Innocencia, Gambiza`s relative, then approached Ndebele offering him money to secure Gambiza`s release.

Upon receiving the US$200, Ndebele then gave half of it to Phiri so they could work together.

The duo was later arrested and subsequently appeared in court.
Through their lawyer, Esau Mandipa of Gundu and Dube Legal Practitioners, Ndebele and Phiri appealed against both their conviction and sentence.

On June 19 this year, judges Kamocha and Makonese, sitting at Bulawayo High Court upheld the appeal and set aside the duo`s conviction thereby finding them not guilty.