POLICE are still to arrest scores of convicts who are freely walking the streets of Harare while on warrants of arrest, a development that has been widely condemned as lack of seriousness on the part of the law enforcement agents.
About 26 people were convicted of various offence, but lost their appeals at the High Court yet the police are struggling to apprehend them for committal to prison.
The Herald broke the story a month ago and published a list of the convicts, according to correspondence between the courts and the police, but no arrests have so far been recorded.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi had a tough time explaining to journalists the position of the police on the 26 convicts.
He kept on promising to get updates from police’s crime section, but to no avail.
After hitting a brick wall, The Herald checked with the Harare Magistrates’ Court and established that none of the 26 suspects had been brought to court on a warrant of arrest. A number of people have expressed concern over the delay in locking up the convicts.
“It really boggles the mind, how a whole police force can fail to apprehend people whose names and addresses are available.
“Those who are supposed to be in jail must be arrested and locked up in the interests of justice,” said a source.
Another interested party, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the police officers involved lacked seriousness.
“The police officers are not even serious. If they are finding it difficult to arrest the convicts, they should simply cause the gazetting of the particular names so that the nation can assist in apprehending them.
“Why are they not gazetting the names of the suspects? They also need to publish the names on their official website to show their seriousness,” said a source.
A legal expert who preferred anonymity said:
“When the police are looking for a criminal, it is standard practice and procedure that upon failure to locate and identify the suspect, there comes a time when the names are gazetted or published in the Press.
“Wanted persons believed to be out of the country must have their names published on the Interpol red notice to ensure they are apprehended wherever they are,” he said.
Meanwhile, police have launched a manhunt for David Whitehead Textiles chief operations officer Edwin Chimanye, who has been dodging jail since the dismissal of his criminal appeal in 2015.
Chimanye was jailed 18 months in 2013 for dating a minor. He filed a notice of appeal at the High Court the same year.
However, the convict did not do much to prosecute his appeal. Instead, Chimanye relaxed until the Registrar of the High Court dismissed the appeal for want of prosecution in 2015.
In a bizarre case that borders on corruption, Chimanye was never served with his warrant of arrest issued in 2015.
He unlawfully enjoyed freedom for four years until The Herald recently blew his cover through an investigative story that exposed the shenanigans, prompting his lawyers into desperate attempts to reinstate the appeal.
The lawyers filed an application for reinstatement of appeal at the High Court last month, at a time the convict had no reason to be out of prison.
Armed with a copy of the High Court application, Chimanye’s lawyers rushed to the magistrates’ court where they had the 2015 warrant of arrest cancelled pending determination of the High Court application.
After cancellation of the warrant, the lawyers, for unknown reasons, withdrew the High Court case, giving Chimanye a new lease of unlawful freedom.
Yesterday Assistant Commissioner Nyathi said the police were now looking for Chimanye.
“We now want to arrest Chimanye after realising he has no reason to be out of prison. We learnt that he no longer has any pending application at the High Court and the magistrates’ court has since issued a fresh warrant of arrest against him,” he said.
Assist Comm Nyathi urged lawyers to professionally discharge their duties in a manner that does not seek to confuse the criminal justice system.
“We appeal to lawyers to seek clarity on their cases with the superior courts. They must not act in a manner that confuses the system,” he said.
Facts are that on January 7 2013 around 5pm, Chimanye saw a young girl walking along Ascot Road in Avondale prompting him to stop his vehicle and gave her his business card.
He contacted the girl before agreeing to meet on January 10 so that they would go out together. Chimanye bought her a Nokia Asha for communication on WhatsApp and at one time a family friend saw the girl with this phone, went through the pair’s messages and concluded that the two were lovers.
He picked up the girl and her friends on the same day around 7pm and took them to Richwood Park where he asked them to buy drinks and food leaving Chimanye to fondle and kiss the girl in the vehicle.
The girl told the court that Chimanye once asked her to look for a lodge near her residence and a family friend confirmed the pair’s relationship. At one time Chimanye asked the girl to send him her nude pictures, which she did. The matter came to light when the girl’s parents discovered the mobile phone.