Quarantine Blocks Suspected Robber’s Bail Hearing

The bail hearing of a suspected armed robber was delayed after the key prosecution witness was quarantined after coming into contact with Covid-19 patients.

The investigating officer, George Pepukai, is self-quarantining in line with health requirements.

This emerged during the bail application hearing for a soldier, Felix Gari, who is seeking bail pending trial.

Gari (29), attached to the Presidential Guard, is facing two charges of robbery in aggravating circumstances and unlawful possession of a firearm.

Prosecutor Mr Douglas Chesa told the presiding judge Justice Jacob Manzunzu that he could not secure the availability of detective Pepukai on time to clarify several issues raised in opposing bail.

“We are unable to secure the investigating officer in this case to come and give reasons why bail is being opposed,” he said.

“The witness communicated to me that he is in self-isolation after he dealt with suspected coronavirus suspects in the course of his duty.”

However, Justice Manzunzu asked the prosecutor to find a substitute for the witness to deal with the sticking issues in the matter, and ensure justice delivery was dispensed timeously.

The accused was denied bail when he appeared at the magistrates’ courts on March 27.

He was arrested after police used a firearm when the vehicles he was travelling in failed to stop at a roadblock.

Gari is suspected to be part of a gang of armed robbers that escaped at the roadblock.

At the time the vehicle was stopped, there were two women victims of robbery who had been given a lift by the gang.

It is alleged the two women alerted the police at the roadblock that the gang was armed and had robbed them, prompting the police action.

However, Gari’s accomplices fled.

The prosecution is opposing bail arguing that he is facing charges for a serious crime, which attracts a stern sentence on conviction.

The prosecution case hinges on the testimony of complainants who allegedly lost money and cellphones to the suspected robbers.

But Justice Manzunzu said the averments regarding the opposition of bail, needed clarification as they were too frugal to help the court.

The Court needs to know how the suspect’s release on bail could impact negatively on the arrest of his alleged accomplices. Gari, who is being detained at Bindura Prison, did not attend court as he could not get transport to Harare.

Justice Manzunzu deferred the hearing to tomorrow, at the behest of the prosecution, to bring in someone from the Criminal Investigation Department’s homicide section, to explain the issues being raised in the matter.

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