Court frees cop on bonnet pirate taxi driver
THE High Court has slashed the jail term of a Gweru pirate taxi driver who was sentenced to 10 years in prison for speeding off from a roadblock with a police officer clinging to the bonnet of his car at a speed of 100km/hour.
Nyashadzashe Musipa (28) was last year convicted of attempted murder by Gweru regional magistrate, Mr Morgan Nemadire, who sentenced him to 10 years before suspending three years for five years on condition of good behaviour.
Musipa was asked to stop at a roadblock by Constable Jeffrey Nyambawaro, a police officer based at Senga but refused. He sped off with the cop clinging to the bonnet of his car.
Musipa, through his lawyers Mhaka Attorneys, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court challenging both conviction and sentence.
Justice Nicholas Mathonsi, who was sitting with Justice Francis Bere during the criminal appeals court, upheld the conviction. He however, quashed the sentence and substituted it with a two year prison term.
“In the circumstances, it is hereby ordered that the appeal against sentence is upheld. The sentence is quashed and in its place is substituted with a sentence of 24 months of which five months is suspended for five years on the usual conditions,” ruled Justice Mathonsi.
The judge ordered Musipa’s immediate release because he had already served the remaining 19 months of his prison term.
Musipa, in his grounds of appeal, argued that the sentence was inappropriate and too harsh. He further argued that the police officer did not suffer any injuries that would warrant a lengthy prison term.
Miss Nokuthaba Ngwenya, for the State, which was cited as the respondent, did not oppose the appeal.
“Although reports of incidents of pirate taxi drivers disregarding law enforcement instructions are now prevalent in our country, the trial magistrate however, over-emphasised the seriousness of the offence at the expense of the appellant. The offence was not premeditated and the fact that the complainant did not suffer any injuries should have reduced the sentence. Wherefore the respondent prays that the appeal against conviction be upheld, and the appeal against sentence be allowed,” she said.
In passing sentence, Mr Nemadire said Musipa deserved a severe sentence, arguing that his reckless behaviour could have caused the death of the police officer.
The court heard that on June 27 in 2014, Const Nyambawaro was at a roadblock with four other police officers at the roundabout along Shurugwi road.
At around 2.30PM, Musipa was asked to stop by Const Nyambawaro.
He however, did not stop and Const Nyambawaro clung to the bonnet of the car which was being driven at high speed for about 6km.
An ambulance driver who was stopped at the roadblock picked one Constable Muzhongo and they gave chase. They caught up with Musipa at Fletcher High School turn off along the Gweru- Shurugwi road and arrested him.—@mashnets.