Bail ruling for diamond theft suspects today

Source: The Herald – Breaking news.

Bail ruling for diamond theft suspects today

Prosper Dembedza

Herald Correspondent

Five suspects allegedly involved in the theft of diamonds worth US$31 000 from the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport remained in custody yesterday, with a Harare magistrate expected to make their bail ruling today.

The court heard from the defence team that the buyer and owner of he diamonds had allegedly bought the diamonds unprocedurally and so the police had applied the law selectively by not arresting the officials who signed off on the diamonds.

Silas Chirume (54), a Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) diamonds inspector, and his four alleged accomplices, are facing charges of stealing diamonds that were destined for a buyer in the United Arab Emirates.

It was alleged on Monday, during the cross-examination of the investigating officer, that Erleen Gold Trading DMCC of Dubai bought the diamonds unprocedurally as it did not go through the bidding process.

Chirume, Edward Jacob Gunda (62) of Anjin Investments, stationed at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport as assistant security manager, Maison Phiri (37) MMCZ’s diamond evaluator, Steven Wahita (56) Anjin investments’ security supervisor, and Isaac Muripa (37), a police detective attached to the airport, are facing theft charges.

Defence Lawyers Mr Joseph Nemaisa and Mr George Makonere told the court that Paolo Persico, representing Erleen Gold Trading, bought the diamonds unprocedurally as he did not take part in the bidding process for the parcel.

The lawyers said Mr Persico was not on the viewing list and therefore, a blanket bidding was conducted.

Mr Makonere asked the investigating officer why police had not arrested Lieutenant Colonel Tapfumaneyi Mhuka and Kim Song since they were the ones who signed the packing list and the release order.

Mr Manokore argued that this amounted to selective application of the law.

The defence team told the court that their clients were good and proper candidates for bail since all of them were of fixed abode. The hearing was adjourned to today for bail ruling.

Allegations are that on April 17 at around 9am, Anjin Investments (Pvt) Ltd undertook the diamond packing in preparation for shipping diamonds to Erleen Gold Trading in Dubai.

During the packing, personnel from Anjin, Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe, a member from CID minerals, flora and fauna unit and the customer, Paolo Persico, representing Erleen Gold Trading, were present. The accused persons were part of the personnel responsible for packing 100 parcels into 10 bags before they were sealed in a trunk.