A GANG of four machete-wielding gold panners allegedly disarmed a security guard of his service rifle, which was loaded with 10 rounds of ammunition before they fatally struck him and robbed him of cellphones, clothes and a pair of shoes.
The incident occurred at Arda Balu Estate in Umguza District in Matabeleland North.
This emerged when one of the suspects, Tobias Dube (26) of Cowdray Park suburb in Bulawayo approached the High Court seeking bail pending trial for murder.
Tobias connived with Dumisani Ngulube (34) of Pelandaba suburb, Nkosilathi Ncube (22) of Nkayi and Givemore Ngwenya (24) of Lupane to fatally attack and rob Ernest Dube (54) after disarming him of his 303 rifle.
Tobias, who is now facing a murder charge in connection with Ernest’s death, filed an application at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.
He sought an order for release on bail pending trial. Justice Nokuthula Moyo yesterday dismissed the application, saying there was no guarantee that if released on bail, Tobias would not abscond due to the gravity of the offence.
“It is ordered that the application be and hereby accordingly dismissed,” ruled the judge.
In papers before the court, Tobias through his lawyers Nyawo Ruzive Practice had offered to pay $5 000 bail and to report once a week at Cowdray Park Police Station as part of the bail conditions.
He had also offered to continue residing at his given address and not interfere with State witnesses until the finalisation of the matter.
In his bail statement, Tobias is denying the charge, arguing he was tortured by police to admit the charge.
He further argued that there was no evidence linking him to the offence.
“I don’t know anything about the murder of the deceased as I was not in the company of my co-accused on the night in question. There is no evidence linking me to the commission of the offence and the averment that I was found in possession of the deceased’s belongings is misleading because I am actually the one who took the police to the co-accused persons,” argued Tobias.
“After the torture we were taken to the crime scene and forced to make indications by the police.”
He also dismissed the State’s assertion that he was likely to abscond if released on bail, arguing that the State’s case was weak.
The State, which was represented by Mr Bruce Maphosa, opposed the application, arguing that there were compelling reasons warranting the accused person’s continued detention.
“The sentence that the applicant is likely to get upon conviction is a lengthy one and that on its own can tempt him to escape justice by absconding,” he said.
According to court papers, it was stated that on August 20 this year, Tobias together with his three accomplices who are also in custody, armed themselves with machetes and axes and went to Arda Balu Estate in Umguza. They found the deceased manning the premises together with his colleague Ashley Manyemba.
They allegedly confronted the two security guards and indiscriminately attacked them using machetes. They also managed to disarm Ernest of his rifle before they continued to attack him leading to his death. The deceased’s colleague lost consciousness after sustaining a serious head injury.
The gang went away with a loaded 303 rifle. Manyemba gained consciousness after a while and staggered to his colleague whom he found lifeless in a pool of blood and reported the matter to the police.
Tobias was the first to be arrested after a tip-off and upon investigations he implicated the other three.
Investigations led police to the other three suspects and they recovered the rifle which had four rounds of ammunition missing and they are yet to establish where these were used. ■