Villagers who torched ‘cattle rustler’ homes convicted
A HEADMAN and three villagers from Matshetsheni who torched three homesteads belonging to suspected cattle rustlers have been convicted of public violence.
The headman, Peter Mlilo and villagers Samson Tshabangu, Casper Ncube and Mthokozisi Dube pleaded not guilty but were convicted by Gwanda magistrate Ms Sheila Nazombe. They were remanded in custody to today for sentencing. Six other villagers - Robert Mlilo (71), Mgoli Moyo (71), Dan Ncube (62), Desire Moyo (82) and Luka Ndlovu (84) were acquitted on the same charges.
The villagers, in their defence, said they were not responsible for the violence and destruction of homesteads in Insindi resettlement area.
They said they only attended a meeting to discuss the prevalence of stock theft in the area.
However, convicting them, Ms Nazombe said there was overwhelming evidence against the four.
Witnesses who testified positively identified the four among other villagers as the ones who torched their homesteads. Property worth $12 000 was destroyed at the three homesteads. One of the state’s key witnesses, Ms Precious Noko, identified Tshabangu as the ring leader.
Charges against the convicts were that on June 1 this year, the four and others who are still at large hatched a plan to destroy homesteads at Insindi resettlement area. The villagers accused the owners of being responsible for rampant cattle rustling and wanted them to leave the area together with their workers.
One of the victims, Mr Lovemore Moyo, was accused of spearheading the theft of cattle and is wanted by the police in connection with stock theft cases. — @richardmuponde