By Lawrence Chitumba Mashonaland Central
FOUR highway robbers and rapists were on Monday sentenced to 34 years in jail each for robbery and rape charges committed on unsuspecting hitchhikers whom they offered transport in and around Mashonaland Central Province.
Benissa Mutsvangwa (35) of House Number 1456, Zengeza 2, Chitungwiza, Charles Chihunde Muzite (34) of House Number 12875, Unit N, Chitungwiza, Idah Yvonne Muyambiri (28) of House Number 12875, Unit N, Chitungwiza and Ruth Tarupuwa (30) of House Number 15593, Unit N, Chitungwiza are serving prison terms of 20 years each for similar offences committed around the Chivhu area and are wanted in Norton and Nyanga to answer to similar charges.
The four will serve effective 30-year jail terms each after regional magistrate Mr Amos Mbobo treated counts one and two as one, three and four as one, while count five stood on its own.
He suspended one year on condition that the quartet restitutes their victims $372 plus US$125 before December 31, 2019 and suspended another three years on condition that they do not commit similar offences in the next five years.
For the State, Mr Ngoni Kaseke said on May 6, 2019, Mutsvangwa, Muzite, Muyambiri and Tarupuwa offered a lift to a teacher at Nyamuseve Secondary School to her school from Mahuwe Bus Stop.
On approaching Makombi Farm along Guruve-Mahuwe Road, they told her that she had boarded a robbers’ car before assaulting her and demanding money from her.
Mr Kaseke said the teacher surrendered all her belongings to the robbers, which included a travelling bag with a handbag containing cosmetics, US$25, $5, passport, bank cards, a cellphone and a Lenovo tablet. They then tied her hands, force marched her into the bush and injected her with an unknown substance and she became unconscious.
When she regained consciousness, she realised that she had been sexually abused.
She reported the matter at Guruve Police Station.
The court heard that on May 7, the gang gave a lift to another victim who was on her way to Madziwa and stopped at Mazowe Bridge and demanded cash while threatening to kill her.
They grabbed a black satchel containing a grey pair of trousers, shirt and shoes before tying the victim and her child to trees in a nearby bush.
Mr Kaseke said on May 7, the quartet, using the same modus operandi, waylaid their third victim and demanded cash while threatening to kill her before robbing her of a satchel, identity card and passport. They also left her tied to a tree.
The three victims later managed to untie themselves and reported the cases at ZRP Bindura Rural Station.
Mr Kaseke said on the fourth count, the gang gave a lift to a Bindura University of Science Education student.
They stopped at Simona area in Bindura and told her she had boarded a robbers’ car.
They demanded money from her while threatening to kill her with an axe.
The gang then robbed her of a laptop, cellphone, US$70, R300 and left her tied to a tree.
Mr Kaseke said for the fifth count, the quartet told the student whom they had tied to a tree that they did not like her conduct and deserved to be raped as punishment. Mutize raped her.
On May 25, the gang was arrested in Chivhu, leading to the recovery of various clothing items, $1 500, US$25, R1 900 and property worth $299.