THREE Chipinge men landed themselves in trouble after being found in possession of suspected Cyclone Idai loot worth over ZW$1 000, which they claimed was given to them by soldiers for safe keeping.

The trio, Joseph Mtetwa, a mechanic, Macdonald Jamburu, a taxi driver and Panganai Simango, who is not employed, appeared before Chipinge magistrate Joshua Nembaware yesterday.

They pleaded not guilty to possession of property reasonably suspected to be stolen as defined by section 125(1)(a) of the Criminal Codification and Reform

The prosecution, however, saved them after it implored the court to acquit and discharge them, submitting that the trio were, in fact, witnesses in the matter
as the culprits, Anymore Matata, Talkmore Collins Mavudzi and Admire Munonyara, who are soldiers had been arrested and put on remand.

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In their defence, the trio had submitted, through their lawyer, Mhungu and Associates, that they did not steal the property, but acted in good faith after
being given for safe-keeping by the soldiers.

“The accused persons believe that they are witnesses against the soldiers for their conduct. They have been forthright to the police, leading to the arrest of
the soldiers and their explanation is consistent even to the present day in court. Simply, their explanation is that the property was delivered to them by the
soldiers, thus is satisfactory and truthful explanation. Consequently, they each pray that they be found not guilty and acquitted,” their lawyer submitted.

Charges are that on April 1, they were intercepted by the police at Joppa turn-off in Chipinge carrying groceries, clothes, fuel and linen believed to have
been stolen Cyclone Idai relief.

They were coming from collecting the goods from Mtetwa’s residence at Silver Streams Wattle Company Estate.

Upon their arrest, they implicated the soldiers and the property recovered was worth ZW$1 740.