Andile Tshuma, Court Reporter
THREE Bulawayo police officers who allegedly solicited a $200 bribe from a man they accused of producing fake Ordinary Level certificates have appeared in court after confirmation from EcoCash that the money was transferred to one of them.
Pedzisai Mugombwi (30) who is stationed at Magwegwe police station, Tanatswa Mortion Prince Jabangwe (25) and Jotham Wangani (28) who are both stationed at Nkulumane police station, appeared before Western Commonage magistrate Mr Stephen Ndhlovu facing extortion charges.
Jabangwe, who resides in Southwold and Mugombwi and Wangani, who both live in Tshabalala, pleaded not guilty. They were remanded out of custody to January 26 for continuation of trial.
An EcoCash money transfer confirmation for part of the funds sent to one of the police officers was produced in court as evidence.
Jabangwe who allegedly received $50 via EcoCash allegedly sent the money back through the same platform when he was arrested.
Prosecuting, Mr Busani Moyo said the three approached Mr Brian Shiridzinonwa at his home in Cowdray Park.
“On June 2, 2016, at around 5PM, the accused persons approached the complainant at his place of residence and told him they were CID officers from Bulawayo Central. They told him that he was under arrest for producing fake Ordinary Level certificates,” said Mr Moyo.
He said the police officers allegedly searched Mr Shiridzinonwa’s computer for the fake certificates, but did not find them. “They took the complainant’s computer with them and advised him that they wanted to continue searching. They then loaded the computer into their car,” Mr Moyo said.
He said Mr Shiridzinonwa refused to hand over the Central Processing Unit, saying he had some work to do. The cops then allegedly demanded $200 for his freedom and for them to give him back his CPU.
Mr Shiridzinonwa was allegedly arrested after he told the cops that he only had $5 on him.
He then started phoning his friends looking for money and was allegedly given $50 by a friend, Lovemore Ruwocha. Mr Shiridzinonwa allegedly handed over the money to the cops, who, however, demanded more.
“He received another $50 via EcoCash from his girlfriend, and he sent it to accused person two’s (Jabangwe) EcoCash wallet,” said Mr Moyo.
An EcoCash print-out showing that $50 was transferred to Jabangwe’s account was produced in court.
The trio, who were driving around with Mr Shiridzinonwa, allegedly handed him back his computer but confiscated a card reader, stapler and a pair of scissors.
On June 6, Mr Shiridzinonwa went to Bulawayo Central CID offices to get his property back only to be told that the three did not work there.
He then phoned Jabangwe demanding his money back but he denied knowing the complainant.
“It is the State’s case that the accused persons acted in common purpose and their conduct was unlawful,” said Mr Moyo.
Mugombwi was represented by Mr Kholwani Nyathi of TJ Mabhikwa and Partners legal practitioners.
In his defence, through his lawyer, he said he did not participate in the extortion.
“On the day in question, my client was requested by Jabangwe to accompany him to Cowdray Park where he wanted to collect some money from someone.
My client never introduced himself as a member of CID (Bulawayo Central) and neither did he tell the complainant that he was under arrest. He also denies ever searching the accused person’s computer.”
Wangani and Jabangwe did not have any legal representation, but they denied the allegations.
The former also said he was asked by Jabangwe to accompany him to Cowdray Park to collect his money from someone. He also said he remained in the car with Mugombwi as the latter went to meet the person whom he had said owed him some money. “I only got out of the car to ask for the use of a toilet. I deny receiving any money or exerting any pressure on the complainant,” he said.
Jabangwe told the court that he did not solicit a bribe but Mr Shiridzinonwa owed him $100 he had failed to pay since January last year.
But Mr Shiridzinonwa insisted in court that the cops demanded money from him.
Article Source: The Chronicle