THE Bulawayo High Court has acquitted a member of the Presidential Guard who was accused of robbing a drunkard who had been caught in the process of relieving himself inside the fence of the President’s office in Gweru.
Andrew Dumba successfully appealed against his conviction and a 15-month jail sentence imposed on him by at the Gweru magistrates for allegedly robbing a passer-by of US$300 after detaining him at the President’s office for answering the call of nature inside the security area.
Dumba, who was guarding the President’s office, was accused of detaining Dennis Manyongori at the office on November 15, 2014 and allegedly assaulted him with a broom and a plank before robbing him of $300 before ordering him to leave via the back door.
After his ordeal, Manyongori proceeded to a police station where he lodged a report leading to Dumba’s arrest.
Dumba was convicted of robbery at Gweru Magistrates Court and was sentenced to 15 months in jail of which six months were suspended for five years on condition he did not, within that period, commit an offence of which violence or dishonesty is an element and for which upon conviction is sentenced to imprisonment without the option of a fine. A further nine months imprisonment was suspended on condition that Dumba performed 211 hours of community service.
Aggrieved by his conviction and sentence, Dumba appealed to the High Court.
Justice Maxwell Takuva recently quashed his conviction on the basis that the evidence presented before the court was not strong enough to warrant a conviction.
One of the witness said Manyongori—who had spent the whole night drinking beer in a night club in Kwekwe before travelling to Gweru in the early hours of the day in question—had actually fallen off the moving commuter omnibus when he discovered that it had taken him past his dropping point while, in his drunken stupor, he was fast asleep.
After falling from the vehicle near the railway line in Gweru, Manyongori then decided to relieve himself inside the fence of the President’s office. That is when some men arrested him and took him to Dumba, who allegedly assaulted him before robbing him of the $300 of the $364 he had on him before kicking him out of the office.
Justice Takuva said there were inconsistencies in the evidence presented before the trial magistrate, like what had caused the nature of injury on Manyongori as the witnesses who effected citizen arrest on him before handing him over to Dumba testified that he sustained the injuries from falling off a commuter omnibus.
“Once the learned magistrate reached the conclusion that it was reasonably possible that the injuries could have been caused by falling off a vehicle, the matter should have ended there,” Justice Takuva said.
“The rest of the court a quo’s (from which the matter came) assessment of the evidence shows nothing more than a superficial comparison of probabilities and demeanour. For these reasons, the court a quo ought to have given the appellant (Dumba) the benefit of the doubt since the State had not proved its case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Justice Francis Bere agreed with his colleague’s decision to acquit Dumba.