HARARE – Seeking to stamp out growing indiscipline in its ranks and quell public anger over armed robberies committed by serving soldiers, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces on Friday took the unusual step of releasing details of a recent military trial which ended in hefty sentences.
Lance corporal Tatenda Dzimbanhete and trooper Wilfred Munetsi were each jailed 40 years for armed robbery by the general court martial, the ZDF said in a media statement.
Dzimbanhete and Munetsi were also demoted to the ranks of private and first year trooper respectively, “and discharged from the military with ignominy,” ZDF spokesman Colonel Alphols Makotore said.
“They both pleaded guilty to the charges of armed robbery which they committed on November 15 at Sunnery farm near Marondera. The Zimbabwe National Army does not condone cases of indiscipline and misconduct and will continue to pass deterrent sentences on any new offenders,” Makotore added.
Dzimbanhete and Munetsi had five years suspended each on condition that they restitute the victim, Arnold Simon, of cash amounting to US$16,830 and R600.
A spike in armed robberies across the country is being blamed on rogue soldiers apparently driven to a life of crime by poor salaries and conditions of service.
A court in Harare recently heard that police investigating an armed robbery recovered illegal guns hidden in the ceiling at One Commado army barracks.
Police say the soldiers leave the barracks at night to commit armed robberies, and then sneak back into the barracks.