Fungai Lupande Court Reporter—
A 27-YEAR-OLD armed robber was given away by his mobile phone which he mistakenly dropped at the crime scene, picking up an identical one belonging to the victim, after stealing more than R1 million and US$23 000. Samuel Teerai Chiodze, who was part of a gang that trailed motorists to their homes before robbing them, will spend at least 14 years in prison.
Chiodze pleaded not guilty to two counts of robbery but was convicted on the presentation of overwhelming evidence by the State.
Magistrate Mr Temba Kuwanda sentenced Chiodze to 10 years on each of the two counts, before setting aside six years of the sentence on condition of good behaviour.
His co-accused, Elisha Manhanga (45), was acquitted.
Prosecutor Mr Sidom Chinzete told the court that on April 20, 2012 Chiodze teamed up with the now deceased Paradzai Mapanga and two others still at large to rob unsuspecting motorists.
Driving a sedan without licence plates, they trailed Annie Mabuto, who was driving a silver VW Golf.
The woman arrived at her home in Sunridge, Harare, around 8.30pm and parked outside waiting for the gate to be opened.
Two of the accused disembarked from their vehicle and approached Mabuto, armed with knobkerries.
They ordered her out of the vehicle, threatening to kill her before speeding off in her car.
Seven days later while driving the stolen car, the accused trailed Tongai Muchemwa and his wife, who were driving a silver Mercedes-Benz C240 and a Toyota Altezza respectively.
The couple arrived at their home in Marlborough, Harare, at around 7.30pm while the accused parked their car down the street.
When Muchemwa returned to lock the gate, the accused approached him armed with a pistol.
They force-marched him to the house and fired two gunshots into the air before demanding cash and valuables.
The accused ransacked the couple’s cars and stole a black bag containing R1 160 000 and US$23 000. They also stole personal documents.
It was here that Chiodze dropped his Nokia C3 cellphone and mistakenly picked up an identical one belonging to one of his victims, leaving his own gadget at the crime scene.
Police tracked him down using data gleaned from the device.