BY SILAS NKALA
TWO detectives, who are part of a group of eight police officers accused of fatally assaulting two armed robbery suspects before shooting their bodies and claiming that they were shot while fleeing from custody during indications at the crime scene, absconded trial at the Bulawayo High Court on Tuesday.
Philip Tada, Daniel Nimrod Kwaramba, George Zuze, Onias Mbano, Peter Muchada, Mailos Mairos Ncube, President Masukume and Albert Zhou who were all attached to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Bulawayo, allegedly tortured to death Andrew Sibanda and Temai Bvumbunu in March 2009 while in police custody.
The detectives, among them senior officers, are being charged with two counts of murder and obstruction of justice.
Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Martin Makonese postponed the case sine die (indefinitely) after the State represented by Sifiso Sibanda indicated that there were two missing accused persons — Zuze and Mbano.
The court advised that the witnesses will be subpoenaed after the two detectives have been located.
This is not the first time the case has been postponed indefinitely for similar reasons. On November 20, 2018, Makonese also removed the matter from the roll after the State indicated that it was not ready to proceed as Mbano did not appear in court.
The State also removed accused Mgcini Sibanda, to leave eight accused persons and it submitted its intention to place him on the witness box.
It is the State’s case that the eight detectives allegedly killed the two suspected armed robbers on March 8, 2009 and tried to cover up.
Eight witnesses, among them relatives and residents who heard the sound of gunshot are expected to give evidence during trial.
The deceased were arrested after a raid at their Njube home. They were interrogated and allegedly assaulted by the accused persons using batons, sjamboks and open hands.
The suspects succumbed to injuries sustained during the assault.
The detectives reportedly loaded the bodies into a motor vehicle and drove from Bulawayo Central Police Station to a bushy area in Queens Park at night.
They allegedly offloaded the bodies and laid them on the ground facing downwards and shot them in the back to appear as if the deceased had tried to flee during indications.
The officers took the bodies to United Bulawayo Hospitals where post-mortems were conducted by a Doctor Garcia.
The doctor concluded that the cause of death in relation to Andrew was hypovolemic shock, bleeding, ruptured left kidney and left iliac artery and gunshot wounds.
On Bvumbunu, Garcia concluded that the cause of death was acute anaemia, ruptured lungs and left femoral artery and gunshot wounds.
A sudden death docket was then compiled before an inquest was held by the now late Bulawayo provincial magistrate John Masimba.
During the inquest Detective Sergeant Farai Bazil Nyapokoto, revealed that the deceased were assaulted and died while in police custody.
The inquest into the death of the two robbery suspects started on October 23, 2009 and ended on September 10, 2010.