Five men, who were accused of torturing, kidnapping and robbing while impersonating police officers to villagers who had reportedly stolen gold ore from a mine earlier believed to be owned by United Family International Church (UFIC) leader Prophet Emmanuel Makandiwa in Mutawatawa, have been acquitted of all charges.
It also emerged that Prophet Makandiwa does not own the mine, which belongs to a church member, although he regularly visits the facility in his spiritual and business mentorship of a member of his flock.
Garikai Murambidzi, Warren Chinyani, Joseph Dzomba, Osward Mukwesha and Brian Mawarura and four others were found not guilty after a full trial before Mutawatawa magistrate Mr Elijah Sibanda after ruling that State allegations were unsubstantiated and lacked corroboration.
The accused persons were facing four counts of kidnapping, three counts of robbery, assault and impersonating a police officer, peace officer or public official.
The complainants in the case were Godknows Mhungu, Lloyd Sande, Boniface Mudzonga and Clever Masango, former employees at Havilla Gold Mine Syndicate .
It was the State’s case that the five interrogated the suspects and severely assaulted and tortured them.
The said unlawful detention dragged for 23 hours until 12 noon the following day.
In his ruling on the kidnapping charges, Mr Sibanda said the four State witnesses made clear indications that none of them were deprived of movement at the milling plant where they had been taken for investigations.
“Where a company security officer takes employees during working hours, and they go with him freely for questioning on the happenings at the company, surely that can’t be kidnapping”, he said.
On allegations of robbery it was established that the complainants admitted to have stolen the gold and had sold it and offered to restitute the gold with property they had bought.
“The fact that the accused persons took the property then surrendered the accused persons and property to the police do not show that the accused persons had an intention to steal, it corroborates with their defence that their intention was to investigate and refer the matter together with the evidence to police”.
The medical affidavits tendered were not consistent with the complainants version of facts. The affidavits say nothing about soles of their feet and other injuries which they said they sustained from the assault.
He queried why they delayed to get medical examinations on the February 24 rather than on the 28th if they were surely injured.
Mr Sibanda dismissed impersonating charges, saying one of the witnesses Brighton Kuzora said when the accused persons arrived, they introduced themselves as mine employees based at Havilla head offices in Harare.
The State failed to call the parents to whom such statements were made to testify that the accused persons impersonated police officers.