BULAWAYO, Saturday, September 21, 1991 — Simon Chimbetu, a popular Zimbabwean rumba musician, was yesterday sentenced to seven years in prison by a Bulawayo magistrate after having been convicted of stealing a motor car valued at $30 000.
Chimbetu (32) had pleaded not guilty to the charge before regional magistrate Mr Nicholas Ndou.
Two years of his sentence were conditionally suspended for three years. Soon after sentence, Chimbetu’s defence counsel, Mr Cuthbert Mpame, made an application for bail pending appeal against conviction. The grounds for the appeal were that Chimbetu was likely to win his appeal because the State had relied on circumstantial evidence to convict him. The magistrate dismissed the application and refused Chimbetu bail on grounds that he had no chance of winning the appeal.
‘’Once someone has been convicted and sentenced to serve, their chances of skipping bail are very high,’’ said Mr Ndou. Dressed in black leather jacket, Chimbetu listened cooly as the magistrate delivered his lengthy judgment, describing Chimbetu’s evidence as having been characterised by contradictions.
Mr Ndou told Chimbetu: ‘’You tried to convince this court that you never connived with Kazomba but it is evident that you knew about the theft. The car was parked outside your house in Glenview 11 hours after it was stolen from Bulawayo and that could not be just mere coincidence.’’ Kazomba (27) has absconded.
Mr Ndou added that most car thieves came from Harare and that once someone had his or her car stolen, it was very difficult to replace it because cars were in short supply in Zimbabwe. The state case was that some time in June last year, Chimbetu and his accomplices, Kazomba, Edmore Temai and Dzingai Murewa, stole a car from Bulawayo and drove it to Harare. They stripped the car of parts and changed the chassis and registration numbers. Tendai and Murewa have since been convicted.