BY SILISIWE MABALEKA BULAWAYO residents are up in arms with the judiciary over the release of three policemen arrested recently while stealing copper cables in Pumula.
The officers were granted $25 000 bail each.
But Pumula residents feel betrayed by the courts because police officers are supposed to be exemplary. They are supposed to arrest criminals.
The three cops have been identified as Tapiwa Taruberekera (39), Rodrick Tauyanago (34) and Kudzai Wemba (33). They are all stationed at Pumula Police Station.
They appeared before Western Commonage resident magistrate Shepherd Mjanja facing charges of contravening section 60A(3)(a)(b) of the Electricity Act (cutting, damaging, destroying or interfering with copper cables for generating, transmitting, distributing or supplying electricity).
Mjaja denied them $25 000 bail each and they appealed to the High Court where they were released on bail.
The three cops allegedly stole 34 metres of Zesa overhead cables, 2,5mm copper cables and 76 metres of gauge single core cables valued at US$7 000.
Following their release on bail, Pumula resident Nomzamo Ndlela said the three officers were criminals who should not be granted bail.
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“Those three officers are law enforcers who should not have been found on the wrong side of law. They should rot in jail because of the pain they caused the community. They are masterminds in stealing copper cables. The fact that they were granted bail makes the issue look like a light offence,” Ndlela said.
Another Pumula East resident Martin Ngozo said: “We are saddened by the copper cable theft crime committed by the police in our community. We have been following the issue, and it saddens us that the cops are not behind bars. The law should be tough on them.”
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) executive secretary for administration, Thembelani Dube, said: “As BPRA, we are closely following and monitoring the developments regarding the Pumula East electricity cable theft case. In the new dispensation of the new republic all citizens must be equal before the Zimbabwean courts.”
The lawyer representing the accused, Takunda Chapisa said: “The issue of bail must not be misconceived. It does not mean that the accused have gone scot free. Bail is a constitutional right in section 50, which states that everyone is entitled to bail unless there are compelling reasons.”
Chapisa said some of the compelling reasons stipulated in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act include the likelihood of absconding trial and interfering with witnesses and investigations.
He said the cops were granted bail at the High Court after the magistrate had denied them.
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