BULAWAYO – Three soldiers have been jailed for 15 years each and discharged from the army after being convicted on armed robbery charges, the Zimbabwe National Army said Wednesday.
Lance Corporal Fortune Ndlovu and Privates Ratiel Manyanga and Kainos Masase committed “armed robbery, unlawful entry and theft cases” in and around Masvingo between January and July last year, the army said.
Their convictions and sentencing on March 5 by the General Court Martial in Bulawayo – the equivalent of the High Court – came after a “contested trial… They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges,” army spokesman Colonel Alphios Makotore said.
“Ndlovu was reduced in rank to Private before they were all discharged from the ZNA with ignominy, and sentenced to 15 years each for the offences,” said Makotore.
The trio, who were who serving with 4 Infantry Battalion in Masvingo, are the latest group of soldiers whose trial and sentences have been publicly disclosed by the military which is battling growing indiscipline within its ranks, reportedly the result of poor pay.
In January, Makotore issued another statement after Lance Corporal Tatenda Dzimbanhete and Private Wilfred Munetsi were each jailed 40 years for armed robbery.
The army says the soldiers are being given “deterrent sentences.”
“The ZNA has warned that any of its members caught on the wrong side of the law will face the full wrath of the law,” Colonel Makotore said in the latest statement.
At least 18 soldiers have been arrested over the last six months on armed robbery charges, according to a ZimLive tally of publicly known arrests.
A court in Harare recently heard that police investigating an armed robbery incident recovered illegal guns hidden in the ceiling at One Commado army barracks.
Police say the rogue soldiers leave the barracks at night to commit armed robberies, and then sneak back in.