via 33 000 bullets stolen from armoury | The Herald August 5, 2014 by Tendai Rupapa
The 33 216 rounds of ammunition for different rifles and pistols recently found in possession of a Chinese national were stolen from the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s national armoury, raising fears of breaches in State security, the court heard yesterday. This came out when former Detective Assistant Inspector Ananias Machingura (40), Detective Constable Vengesai Hakunandaba (47) and Assistant Inspector Brian Marufu (39) appeared before Harare magistrate Mr Tendai Mahwe facing charges of stealing the ammunition.
They were all remanded in custody to today for continuation of bail application, while their two other accomplices were still at large.
The Chinese man, Woncai Huo (51), who is facing charges of contravening various sections of the Firearms Act, the Gold Trade Act and the Parks and Wildlife Act, was recently granted US$2 000 bail.
The racket involving the stealing of ammunition from the police armoury and selling them reportedly started in 2007 and there are fears that even weapons were also stolen and might have landed in the hands of dangerous criminals.
The case is likely to suck in a city weapons dealer whom the court heard was the link between the gang and Woncai.
Harare lawyer Ms Tina Kadhau of Nyikadzino Simango and Associates is representing Machingura, Hakunandaba and Marufu.
Prosecutor Miss Sharon Mashavira opposed bail on the grounds that the trio was facing a serious offence which called for a lengthy custodial sentence.
She said they were likely to abscond if released on bail and that Woncai was ready to testify against the trio.
“Your Worship, the accused persons are law officers, hence they understand court functions and the fate that awaits them and the likelihood of incarceration upon conviction,” said Miss Mashavira.
“Therefore, if released on bail they are likely to take flight and abscond. To substantiate our case, the amoury was identified by the police as the armoury which went missing from the ZRP National Armoury.
“Your Worship, their linkman is a city dealer who deals in firearms and is still at large and also their other accomplices are still at large and if granted bail they are likely to interfere with investigations and witnesses.”
To aid the State’s fears, Miss Mashavira called the investigating officer, Detective Inspector Romeo Makavi, who said that there was a likelihood that some of the ammunition stolen by the trio might be in the hands of criminals.
Det Insp Makavi said that the arrest of the three will open a “can of worms”.
“Your Worship, after a comprehensive audit, some other offences might be unearthed,” he said.
The complainant in the case is the State represented by Chief Superintendent Gondo who is the staff officer armaments.
It is the State’s case that during the period between 2007 and July this year, the trio working in connivance, stole the 33 216 rounds of ammunition and sold them.
Acting on a tip off, the police arrested Woncai who had bought the ammunition and he implicated the trio and their accomplices.