Gun and robbery charge Mnangagwa nephews denied bail at High Court

HARARE – Two nephews of President Emmerson Mnangagwa will stand trial coming from prison after the High Court threw out their bail appeals on Tuesday.

Brothers Tawanda and Vengesai Munangagwa are charged with conspiracy to commit armed robbery and possession of illegal firearms.

Tawanda, 35, is a squadron leader in the Air Force of Zimbabwe at Manyame, and Vengesai 46, owns a sprawling farm in Marondera and is alleged to be a Central Intelligence Organisation spy.

The two were last month denied bail by Harare magistrate Denis Mangosi.

They then appealed to the High Court.

Justice Benjamin Chikowero, in a judgement made available on Tuesday, said the strength of the prosecution evidence could induce the two to avoid standing trial.

“It appears that the verdict will turn on the sufficiency of evidence and the credibility of the witnesses,” said the judge.

“In my opinion, the prosecution appears to have at its disposal an array of witnesses apparently bringing forth a chain of strong evidence against the applicants. On the other hand, their defence strikes me as weak. It seems to have self-evident gaps.

“They urge me to tighten the conditions and present this as an assurance that they will stand their trial. I do not think this is a matter where bail conditions are decisive.”

Chikowero said the personal circumstances of the two tended to suggest that it is in the interests of justice to admit them to bail but everything else is against them.

“The offence is serious and the evidence against them appears to be strong. This is an offence which is likely to attract a lengthy custodial sentence. In the circumstances, my finding is that there is a very high risk that the applicants will not stand trial in fear of the real prospect of conviction and a lengthy custodial sentence being imposed in respect of the first count, if they were to be released on bail,” the judge ruled.

It is the state’s case that the two intended to rob artisanal miners at Overflow Farm in Kadoma.

According to prosecutors, police were tipped off about the duo’s plan. On April 14, police got on their tail as they drove in a white Nissan Hardbody along Samora Machel Avenue.

When they noticed they were being followed, Vengai allegedly drove at high speed on the Bulawayo highway leading to a high-speed chase.

They were arrested at a roadblock in Norton and a search of the vehicle turned up an AK47 rifle loaded with 30 rounds of ammunition.

Police also recovered a Tokarev pistol during a search of Tawanda’s home at 21 Retreat Farm in Waterfalls on April 15.

He allegedly told police the gun, which was hidden between a mattress and base of a bed, belonged to Vengai.

In their appeal for bail, the two claimed the gun was planted in the house by police.

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