A criminal suspect who is allegedly involved in the theft of 28kgs of gold worth close to US$1 million, yesterday faked death to abscond trial, but his lawyers were exposed, in humiliating fashion, after they failed to produce a death certificate for purposes of authenticating the claims.

The accused Jefat Chaganda, now suspected of having skipped the country’s borders, is one of the individuals accused of stealing gold kept as exhibit at Plumtree Police Station on July 7, 2018.

His lawyers Nyikadzino, Simango and Associates told High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa that their client had died but could not validate the claim as Chaganda’s death certificate was nowhere to be found.

Infuriated, Justice Mabhikwa revoked bail on Chaganda’s eight other well-placed accomplices who include a magistrate, senior cops and legal staffers. They will reappear in court on September 8.

A police manhunt has since been launched for Chaganda who is being charged together with Plumtree regional magistrate Timeon Tavengwa Makunde, Stanley Chinyanganya who is the area public prosecutor, prominent Harare lawyer Admire Rubaya as well as Dingumuzi Ncube, Tyson Ruvando, Godfrey Makuvadze, Ladislous Tamboonei and Detective Assistant Inspector Ladislous Tinacho, who is in charge of the ZRP Minerals and Border Control.

In denying them bail, the High Court said there was a likelihood that Chaganda’s gold-thieving accomplices were also going to abscond.

The accused persons had been on $300 bail each but Justice Mabhikwa has since revoked bail on the eight other suspects following Mabhikwa’s death claims.

It is the state’s case that the accused persons are behind the theft of gold weighing 28kg valued at US$970 000, which was stolen from the Plumtree Police Station armoury through unlawful entry two years back.

The offence came to light a week later when Chief Inspector Mangena, who was reporting for duty, noticed that two FN rifles which were booked in the charge office were not physically there in the armoury, the Chronicle reported.

Chaganda was then found in possession of part of the stolen gold weighing 14kg which he intended to smuggle to neighbouring Botswana.

The recovered gold was then seized by Zimra and handed over to the police in Plumtree. Reports say the nine accused persons then hatched a plan to steal the impounded gold and allegedly played various roles in the scheme.

A one Lovemore Sibanda of Qalo Syndicate is said to have also fraudulently used doctored documents in court to claim ownership of the seized gold, at one point in time.

State media reported that before claims that he had died, Chaganda had been arrested in a Botswana-bound train while his accomplice Ncube, who was in his company, managed to flee.

state media
Additional Reporting: Zwnews