Mupfumi freed, police keen to interview Mukumba Isau Mupfumi

Mutare Bureau

BUS operator, Isau Mupfumi, who was arrested at the weekend over violent clashes between touts at the city’s bus ranks, was yesterday granted US$1 000 bail by Mutare provincial magistrate, Mr Tendai Mahwe.

Mupfumi appeared before Mr Mahwe who remanded him out of custody to June 18.

As part of his bail conditions, Mupfumi was ordered to continue residing at his current address, not to interfere with State witnesses or investigations, and report weekly to the ZRP CID Mutare starting on July 1. 

His lawyer, Mr Victor Chinzamba of Mugadza, Chinzamba and Partners, applied for bail citing Mupfumi’s hypertension condition and upcoming medical operation in Dubai on June 1. 

The State led by Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira did not oppose Mupfumi’s bail.

Meanwhile, police yesterday said they were still keen to interview one of the country’s biggest public transport operators, Leonard Mukumba, or any of his company’s officials following violent clashes which occurred in Mutare between May 23 and 24.

According to police, they want Mukumba, who is currently out of the country, the company manager or any staffer to assist them with investigations over the case. 

In an interview yesterday, national police spokesperson Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed receiving reports that Mukumba, whose buses operate under the trade name Inter-Africa Bus Services, was currently out of the country on business.

He said they were still investigating the case.

“The police will ensure that the law takes its course on anyone, whether it’s the owner, manager or staffer. 

“What it entails is that bus operators should ensure that their bus drivers and conductors comply with road rules and regulations and above all they should not pick up passengers at undesignated points. Passengers should move freely without being harassed and they should not witness the violence that occurred in Mutare last week,” he said.

Comm Nyathi said they were working with other stakeholders such as the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development, Ministry of Local Government and Public Works and the Zimbabwe Passengers Transport Organisation (ZPTO) to ensure that whatever activity is done for the public is conducted in a peaceful manner with strict compliance with the law. 

According to the State’s case,  Mupfumi’s senior rank marshal, Farai Chitsa, was allegedly attacked by rank marshals from other bus companies on May 20, and the bus operator allegedly asked them to retaliate. 

On May 23, a group of Mupfumi’s rank marshals allegedly drove to Harare Old Rank in Mutare in two commuter omnibuses and attacked marshals from other companies with machetes, sjamboks, sticks, and knives. 

“One of the commuter omnibuses, a Toyota Hiace, registration number AFB2518 was being driven by Michael Chinogara. The other commuter omnibus, a Toyota Quantum belonging to Mupfumi was being driven by his worker only known as Ndemera. The Mupfumi Buses rank marshals disembarked and attacked rank marshals belonging to other bus companies with machetes, sjamboks, sticks and knives at the Harare Old Rank, Mutare,” said Mr Mutyasira.

Police officers fired warning shots to disperse the crowd, and seven marshals were arrested. Machetes and stones were recovered from the commuter omnibus. 

The next day, Mupfumi’s marshals clashed with marshals from other companies at Murahwa People’s Green Market in Sakubva, and when police officers arrived, they allegedly fled to the company’s garage. A total of 11 marshals were arrested at Mupfumi’s garage. 

 “On May 24, Mupfumi’s rank marshals proceeded to fight with rank marshals belonging to other bus companies at Murahwa People’s Green Market in Mutare. When police arrived, the rank marshals fled from the crime scene and took refuge at Mupfumi’s garage. Police who were in pursuit, arrested 11 rank marshals at the garage,” said Mr Mutyasira. 

Meanwhile, 49 rank marshals who were arrested over the same matter and appeared before Mr Mahwe were all denied bail. Mr Mutyasira opposed bail, stating that the accused persons were likely to interfere with witnesses. “If the accused people are released, they are likely not to stand trial. The offence that they are being accused of is very serious and upon conviction, they face a lengthy jail term. 

If they are released, the witnesses are likely to refuse to cooperate, fearing the accused persons’ revenge acts. If the accused people are released, it is likely to jeopardise the proper function of the criminal justice delivery system. It is also important to note that investigations are still in progress. 

“It is therefore the State’s prayer to remand the accused persons in custody pending trial,” said Mr Mutyasira.

As he denied them bail, Mr Mahwe said the offences were committed in broad light, and they were all arrested while committing the offences.

“The State case is strong against all of you because you were arrested while committing the offences. It is in the interest of justice not to release you. Also, the magnitude of the violence as indicated can threaten the witnesses involved in this matter,” he said.

Mr Mahwe also said releasing the suspects would cause a public outcry on the justice delivery system.

Police have since reiterated that any bus operator and their criminal gangs who try to cause chaos or violence at commuter ranks or bus termini will face the full wrath of the law and implored bus operators to lead by example and contribute towards the maintenance of law and order in the country.

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