Bull theft top cop loses appeal
THE High Court has dismissed an appeal against conviction and sentence by a senior police officer currently serving a nine-year jail term for sneaking into a Matobo Research Institute Farm and stealing a bull. Washington Muchenu (42), an Assistant Inspector stationed at Mzilikazi Police Station in Bulawayo, slaughtered the breeding bull valued at $4 000 in the middle of the night on July 31 in 2014 and packed the meat in bags.
He then loaded 194 kilogrammes of beef into his car and proceeded to an unknown destination.Muchenu, who had served in the police force for 19 years, denied the allegations but Plumtree magistrate, Mr Livard Philemon convicted him due to overwhelming evidence.
Muchenu through his lawyer, Mr Stephen Zvinavakobvu Legal Practitioners, filed an appeal at the Bulawayo High Court challenging Mr Philemon’s decision.Justice Martin Makonese, who was sitting with Justice Nokuthula Moyo during the criminal appeals court, dismissed the appeal.
“The conclusion from the evidence adduced by the state is that the only reasonable inference that may be drawn is that the appellant (Muchenu) was seen carrying stolen meat. It is the court’s view that appellant’s journey to the farm was not an innocent venture, but his sole mission was to collect stolen meat,” said Justice Makonese.
“You cannot drive through a farm, which is a private property, without the possibility of being asked to stop and be searched by security guards. In the result, the appeal against conviction and sentence is dismissed.”
Muchenu, in his grounds of appeal, argued that the sentence was a glaring misdirection on the part of the magistrate. Mr Zvinavakobvu said the state case was weak and contradictory.
“The state evidence was weak and contradictory and was based on speculation. The court a quo erred in convicting the appellant when he was simply a hired driver who had no knowledge and could not have foreseen that he was transporting stolen beef,” argued the lawyer.
Mr Whisper Mabaudhi, for the National Prosecuting Authority, which was cited as the respondent, said the state proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.“It is submitted that court a quo did not err in view of the fact that there was no special circumstances in sentencing the appellant for nine years. Wherefore the respondent prays that the appeal be dismissed for lack of merit,” said Mr Mabaudhi.
In passing sentence Mr Philemon lashed out at the cop for his reckless behaviour.
“As a police officer you’re expected to be a custodian of the law but you’re, instead, at the forefront of breaking it. Stocktheft cases are among the prevalent crimes in this part of the region and people like you’re not making efforts of reducing these cases,” he said.-@mashnets