Firearms smuggling suspect in fresh bail bid

Source: Firearms smuggling suspect in fresh bail bid | Herald (Crime)

Senior Court Reporter

ZIMBABWE Defence Industries projects manager, Retired Group Captain Leonard Matambo accused of writing a letter to ZIMRA in a bid to facilitate smuggling of 32 rifles and 62 magazines into the country yesterday mounted a fresh bail bid on changed circumstances and pledged to surrender title deeds to his properties as surety.

Matambo is charged with smuggling and unlawful possession of dangerous weapons.

Through his lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya, Matambo said a long period of time had lapsed with the State failing to complete its investigations since his arrest some three weeks ago.

Matambo claims investigations should have been completed by September 14.

“The fact that it is now more than three weeks after the arrest and incarceration of the applicant coupled with the crucial factor of the lack of any proven progress in the investigation of this matter.

“The applicant was arrested on the 31st of August 2022 and it is more than three weeks now since the day of arrest.

“To date the applicant is still languishing in remand Prison.

“He has not been provided with a trial date neither has the State provided him with State Papers.

“The Investigating Officer in this particular matter should by now have completed investigations or at least found further evidence which strengthens their case,” he said.

Matambo said there is no cognisable indication that he will abscond and not stand trial. He also said there are no compelling reasons warranting his continued stay at remand prison.

Matambo claimed that his arrest unfortunate as there is no clear indication he had intentions to smuggle the rifles.

He claimed that his arrest was as a result “excitable individuals who in turn have exposed how the ZNA and ZDI are busting the illegal sanctions imposed on ZDI”.

“This is a matter which did not warrant the arrest of either Gugulethu Mabhena and more specifically the accused person.

“It is unfortunate that there are those who man the offices in the law enforcement agency who want to be seen to be relevant and portray themselves as more patriotic and loyal to the political administration of the Second Republic than the others.

“The accused person is a patriotic Zimbabwean soldier who would not seek to do anything that endangers the security of the country and even its Presidency,” he said.

Matambo denied committing the said offences saying was given a lawful order by his superior, Air Commodore Mutize to write the letter in question for purposes of allowing entry of the firearms under embargo enroute to ZDI Alphida Production Complex in Domboshawa.

“This was not his first time of writing such letters.”

“The accused person was the one who was manning ZDI offices since the Air Commodore Mutize and Colonel Malamo were at the showgrounds for the Agricultural show,” he said.

In his application, Matambo said her came to know after his arrest that the general manager at ZDI had been engaged by one Gladman Chipidza, a managing director at Ukubambana Commodities (Pvt) Ltd, who had subcontracted Mabhena to supply about 32 rifles that had been ordered by the Zimbabwe National Army from Ukubambana Commodities.

He said he was not in physical control of the rifles and had no knowledge of the rifles prior to him being instructed to pen the alleged offending letter by his boss.

Matambo denied conspiring with Mabhena to illegally smuggle the said firearms within Zimbabwe.

“He has no intention whatsoever of absconding from this jurisdiction.

“He believes in his innocence and has demonstrated that there is absolutely no incentive for him to abscond because he has a strong defence which has weakened the case for the prosecution.

“The accused person is prepared to surrender his passport to the Clerk of Court, Harare Magistrates Court as well as surrender his property stand number 419 Senga Township registered under deed of transfer number 857/88.

“The applicant’s behaviour during investigations clearly shows that he was very cooperative and there was no indication that he is likely to interfere with police investigations and thereby jeopardize the due administration of justice and the bail system.

“Additionally, the applicant assures the court that if granted bail he is prepared to abide by any conditions that the Court deems fit and necessary in the circumstances,” he said.

The State is expected to respond today with the court expected to make a ruling on Thursday.

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