Prosper Dembedza Court Correspondent
Former officer-in-charge of Mbare Police Station, Violet Sigauke, who was accused of taking bribes from commuter omnibus operators in return for safe passage, walked out of court free this week after she was acquitted of the charges.
This was after Harare magistrate Mr Lazini Ncube ruled that the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against her.
“Evidence led that the accused had called Kudzai Mpako the previous day and on the day in question,” said Mr Ncube.
“However, the accused indicated that her office was a public one and that the phone could be used by anyone.
“There is that possibility, though, in my considered view that the evidence led does not pass the test of criminal liability which is expected in criminal matters.”
Mr Ncube said it is trite that in a criminal matter, the State’s case should be proven beyond reasonable doubt.
“As I indicated, the evidence from witnesses was fraught with irregularities and inconsistencies,” he said.
“This court cannot convict based on that evidence. The court should not remain with some doubt lingering over its head concerning the fact that the accused probably committed the offence or not.
“It is, therefore, my view that the State did not manage to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt. The accused is, therefore, found not guilty and acquitted.”
Prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri told the court that in January this year, Sigauke asked Mapako, who is the manager of Mama Ru Commuter company, to give her $120.
It is alleged that the money was for free passage of his commuter omnibuses for two weeks.
Mapako allegedly met Sigauke at a bank in Graniteside in Harare and paid $40, but she refused to accept it saying it was too little and that he was to pay $60 per week for free passage of his fleet.
The court heard that on February 8 this year, Sigauke pestered Mapako for the money.
Mapako allegedly contacted his friend, Reuben Chimanja, and asked him to pay the money on his behalf since he was out of Harare, but Chimanja went to police headquarters to report the matter.
A trap was set and four members of the Police Intelligence Unit went to Mbare Police Station and Chimanja allegedly gave the trap money (two $20 and $10 notes) to his conductor Wilson Siwela to hand over to Sigauke at around 6pm.
The four police officers immediately entered Sigauke’s office, identified themselves and showed her the trap authority.
After realising that she had been trapped, Sigauke allegedly removed her belt and threatened to assault Siwela for betraying her.
It is alleged that she tried to swallow the trap money while resisting arrest and bit one of the officers, Assistant Inspector Thomas Mabgwe’s left thumb during the scuffle.
It is alleged that Sigauke spat out the money and the notes’ serial numbers tallied with the photocopies.
Sigauke was being represented by Mr Admire Rubaya.