Cops arrested for aiding theft, attempted smuggling of lithium ore

HARARE – Four police officers have been arrested for allegedly aiding one Bernard Tafadzwa Mnangagwa illegally remove 84 tonnes of confiscated lithium ore which was under the custody of the state in Bulawayo pending investigations.

The ore was loaded into three trucks which were later intercepted by alert officials at the Beitbridge Border Post.

The four police officers, namely Milton Ronald Mathe, aged 27; Nkathazo Siambizi Mudenda, 34; Sendra Zenda, 29 and Chiedza Mutakiwa, 27, are being charged with criminal abuse of duty as public officers.

According to court papers seen by ZimLive, by allowing Mnangagwa to remove the lithium ore from state custody, the four acted contrary to their duties.

“On a period ranging from 21 December 2022 to 24 December 2022, the accused persons Milton Ronald Mathe, Nkathazo Siambizi Mudenda, Sendra Zenda, and Chiedza Mutakiwa who are all members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police stationed at Mzilikazi were deployed to guard lithium-bearing ore exhibit which had been confiscated by police at number 6 Cowden Road Steeldale, Bulawayo.

“Part of their duties was to safeguard the exhibit and provide security.

“During the period while guarding the premises, the accused persons allowed Bernard Mnangagwa to load 28-tonne bags of lithium-bearing ore into a truck, registration MPR138GP, 28-tonne bags in a truck number KM 34DBP, 28-tonne bags in truck registration AFQ1733 to leave premises.

“On 29 December, trucks were intercepted by the police at the Beitbridge Border Post en route to South Africa thereby showing favour to Bernard Mnangagwa and disfavour to the state,” he said.

The accused were arrested on 31 December 2022 and have since been denied bail.

“Bail has been opposed as the accused persons are likely to interfere with key witnesses who are yet to be interviewed.

“The accused persons are facing a serious offence and likely to abscond. There is a likelihood that the release of the accused persons will disturb the public order or undermine public peace or security,” further read court papers.

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