Failed gold heist gang walks free

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Patrick Chi­tumba Mid­lands Bu­reau Chief

SIX men ac­cused of at­tempt­ing to rob a miner of 47kgs of gold worth over $1,8 mil­lion in Kwekwe, yes­ter­day walked free af­ter a mag­is­trate ruled that the State had failed to prove a prima fa­cie case against them.

Franco Celia Pullen, Chemist Sibanda, Mun­yaradzi Charakupa, Zadzi­sai Mu­tambi, Farai Sibanda, and Ven­gai Si­mari heaved a sigh of re­lief as Mid­lands Pro­vin­cial Mag­is­trate, Mrs Phathek­ile Msipa, dis­missed the State’s ap­pli­ca­tion to have them put on re­mand.

Pullen (43) of Kwekwe, Charakupa (40) of Harare, Mu­tambi (34), Sibanda (43) Farai (21) and Si­mari (38) all of Kadoma, had pleaded not guilty to a charge of at­tempted rob­bery through their le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive, Mr Thomas Mil­i­tao.

The six were al­leged to have at­tempted to steal the gold which was be­ing taken to Fi­delity Print­ers and Re­finer­ies in a de­liv­ery van on be­half of Vans­burg Drum­gold En­ter­prises.

Mr Mil­i­tao ar­gued that Pullen was the right­ful owner of the min­ing con­ces­sion where the gold orig­i­nated from and there­fore he could not have sought to rob him­self.

He said the ac­cused had a prospect­ing li­cence from the Min­istry of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment and was there­fore the right­ful owner of the mine. The lawyer said Pullen was a vic­tim. In her rul­ing, Mrs Msipa said the Min­istry of Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment cre­ated the mess when it is­sued two li­cences to both par­ties.

“The State failed to place facts to jus­tify that there were rea­son­able grounds that the ac­cused per­sons had com­mit­ted the of­fence. What we have here be­fore the court is a sce­nario that has been caused by of­fi­cials from the Mines and Min­ing De­vel­op­ment who have is­sued two doc­u­ments to two peo­ple. This has re­sulted in the dis­pute we have. The ac­cused placed im­mutable ev­i­dence be­fore the court to de­mol­ish facts placed by the State which was al­leg­ing that they com­mit­ted the of­fence,” she said.

“The is­sue of own­er­ship of this mine can’t be re­solved now but can only be clar­i­fied by the Min­istry of Mines. I find no bases to place the ac­cused on re­mand be­cause the State failed to dis­charge its duty whilst the ac­cused has man­aged to do so, ac­cord­ingly the State’s ap­pli­ca­tion is hereby dis­missed.”

Pros­e­cu­tor, Mr Em­manuel Mathose said the com­plainant is Vans­burg Drum­gold En­ter­prises led by Mr Arm­strong Ma­panga (44) of Kwekwe.

He said on July 12, the com­plainant through his com­pany Vans­burg Drum­gold En­ter­prises was given a min­ing cer­tifi­cate to mine at Dan­drum Mine North.

On July 17, Mr Mathose said, Vans­burg Drum­gold En­ter­prises started op­er­a­tions at the mine and ex­tracted a sub­stan­tial amount of gold ore which they took to Com­bus­tion Tech Com­pany in Kwekwe for pro­cess­ing.

“On July 18 and at around 1PM, Vans­burg Drum­gold En­ter­prises be­ing rep­re­sented by Arm­strong Ma­panga fin­ished pro­cess­ing the gold ore and pro­duced 47,5kgs of gold which he then loaded into his Isuzu Twin Cab in­tend­ing to trans­port it to Fi­delity Print­ers and Re­finer­ies in Kwekwe,” he said.

Mr Mathose said Pullen way­laid the com­plainant along the way to Fi­delity Print­ers and Re­finer­ies, Kwekwe.

“Ac­cused num­ber one then charged to­wards the com­plainant’s mo­tor ve­hi­cle. Upon ar­rival he hit the com­plainant on the chest with a fist and tried to force­fully open the com­plainant’s car in­tend­ing to take away the 47,5kg of gold bul­lion, but failed as Arm­strong Ma­panga locked the doors in the process,” he said.

The Pros­e­cu­tor said the com­plainant quickly alerted the po­lice.

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