A Chitungwiza thief yesterday caused a stir in court when he gulped poison before pelting the magistrate with the empty bottle soon after the court pronounced him guilty of stealing a mobile phone. Cuthbert Shoko (51), who was attending court from home, shocked the gallery and court officials when he suddenly took out the bottle from his pocket.He opened it and gulped the contents and struck magistrate Mr Francis Mapfumo in the face as court orderlies wrestled with him.
Shoko was rushed to Chitungwiza Central Hospital, where he is battling for his life. However, the type of poison he took was still to be ascertained.
Mr Mapfumo did not sustain serious injuries and the attack prompted the magistrate to abruptly adjourn the proceedings.
The incident raised concern over the laxity in security at the courts.
Chief magistrate Mr Mishrod Guvamombe said all people entering the court building should be searched.
“The principle is that people who man the entrance should always search people for dangerous weapons or substances and check that they are properly dressed,” he said.
He added: “On the Chitungwiza incident, our guards at the entrance actually searched this convicted person but they mistook the poison for a cough mixture.”
However, at most courts, there are people who man the entrances but they hardly search for dangerous weapons or substances. They are mainly concerned with the dressing of the members of the public coming to court.
Sources said Shoko has a series of previous convictions for various criminal offences including masquerading as a lawyer and assault, among others.
Five years ago, Shoko threatened to commit suicide during one of his trials.
In that trial before then magistrate Mr Godfrey Unzemoyo, Shoko wept uncontrollably begging for the prosecution to close its case and the court to make its ruling before threatening to commit suicide saying that he had had enough from the courts.
He accused the police of gross victimisation saying his continuous appearance at the courts was affecting his children’s performance at school.
Shoko said then while sobbing, “Why is it that you always point fingers at me out of all these people? I can even commit suicide.”
In the recent case, prosecutor Ms Nthombikayise Nleya proved that Shoko stole a mobile phone belonging to his wife’s sister.
On April 15 at around 9pm, the complainant, Yeukai Mutefani was having a beer drink at Hippo Drum Bottle Store together with her boyfriend Chester Mupfumbwa and their colleague Edmore Chandanangirira.
The trio later decided to go to Beatrice Motel for some more drinks and Mutefani gave Chandanangirira her Samsung Galaxy tablet for safekeeping.
While at Beatrice Motel, Mutefani and Mupfumbwa had a misunderstanding, resulting in Mutefani hitting Mupfumbwa with an empty beer bottle on his face.
Chandanangirira left the pair and went to his house which, he shared with Mupfumbwa.
The following day, Shoko went to Mupfumbwa’s house to assess his injuries.
He then asked for Mutefani’s mobile phone on the pretext that he wanted to hand it over to her which, he never did.-Zimpapers