Six-mem­ber cig­a­rette smug­gler gang feeds ri­val to Lim­popo River croc­o­diles

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Mashudu Net­sianda

SIX cig­a­rette smug­glers teamed up and al­legedly threw a mem­ber of a ri­val group into the crocodile-in­fested Lim­popo River re­sult­ing in him be­ing de­voured by the deadly rep­tiles, a High Court judge has heard.

Jus­tice Maxwell Takuva heard this when Lungisani Ndhlera (24), a mem­ber of the syn­di­cate that al­legedly threw Leeroy Mh­langa into the river, ap­proached the Bu­l­awayo High Court seek­ing bail.

Ndhlera and the other five sus­pects, who are still at large, al­legedly threw Mh­langa into the river and at­tacked him with stones un­til he drowned be­fore croc­o­diles feasted on him two years ago.

Jus­tice Takuva dis­missed Ndhlera’s ap­pli­ca­tion for bail, say­ing there was no guar­an­tee that if granted he would not ab­scond due to the grav­ity of the of­fence.

“While it’s true that the pre­sump­tion of in­no­cence op­er­ates in favour of the ap­pli­cant, there is like­li­hood from the to­tal­ity of the cir­cum­stances that the ap­pli­cant if re­leased on bail will not stand trial,” said the judge.

Jus­tice Takuva said the fact that Ndhlera was of no fixed abode and stayed in the bush car­ry­ing out il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties made him a flight risk.

He said the of­fence oc­curred along the Lim­popo River which de­mar­cates Zim­babwe and South Africa.

“The ap­pli­cant lived and worked in the bush car­ry­ing out il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties. Quite clearly from the facts, the of­fence arose from the il­le­gal ac­tiv­i­ties ap­pli­cant and his cronies were en­gaged in and af­ter com­mit­ting the of­fence they ran away from Beit­bridge.

“I’m satisfied that there are com­pelling rea­sons in this case jus­ti­fy­ing ap­pli­cant’s con­tin­ued de­ten­tion. I find there­fore that it is in the in­ter­ests of jus­tice that the ap­pli­cant be de­tained in cus­tody pend­ing trial, and in the re­sult, the ap­pli­ca­tion is dis­missed,” ruled Jus­tice Takuva.

In his ap­pli­ca­tion through his lawyers Moyo and Ny­oni Le­gal Prac­ti­tion­ers, Ndhlera, ar­gued that his ad­mis­sion to bail was un­likely to prej­u­dice the in­ter­ests of jus­tice.

He had also un­der­taken to re­side at his fa­ther’s homestead in Mberengwa as well as not in­ter­fere with State wit­nesses.

The Na­tional Prose­cut­ing Au­thor­ity (NPA) which was cited as the re­spon­dent, op­posed bail, ar­gu­ing that there was a prima fa­cie case against Ndhlera.

“There are wit­nesses who saw the ap­pli­cant com­mit­ting the of­fence to­gether with his ac­com­plices. The ap­pli­cant him­self ad­mits be­ing at the scene of the crime al­though he de­nies par­tic­i­pat­ing in its com­mis­sion and fur­ther­more he does not deny that the State wit­nesses are well known to him,” said Mr Whis­per Mabaudhi from the NPA.

The court heard that on March 31 in 2014, Mh­langa and his team smug­gled boxes of cig­a­rettes into South Africa.

They were al­legedly robbed of the con­tra­band by thugs al­legedly work­ing in ca­hoots with South African sol­diers.

The fol­low­ing day Mh­langa mo­bilised a group of smug­glers and they crossed back to South Africa in­tend­ing to fight the South African sol­diers as well as the thugs to re­cover their stolen cig­a­rettes.

The mis­sion was, how­ever, un­suc­cess­ful and upon their re­turn, Mh­langa and his group had a heated ar­gu­ment with Ndhlera and his ac­com­plices for re­fus­ing to as­sist them re­cover their stolen cig­a­rettes.

The dis­pute re­sulted in Ndhlera and his gang as­sault­ing Mh­langa be­fore push­ing him into the Lim­popo River. They threw stones at him un­til he drowned and he was later eaten by croc­o­diles.— @ mash­nets.

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