CORRUPT OFFICERS CAUGHT ON CAMERA, SLAMMED WITH 2 YEAR IMPRISONMENT | The High Court has rejected an appeal against sentence and conviction by two fired police officers from Plumtree who were each jailed for 24 months after they were caught on camera extorting $20 from a cross border transporter.
Fume Chibvuri (35) and Aaron Zivuku (29) made headlines after they were caught on camera trying to extort a cross border transporter, Mr Gift Moyo, at Plumtree Border Post in 2015.
Plumtree magistrate Mr Gideon Ruvetsa sentenced each of them to 24 months imprisonment but six months were suspended on condition that they do not commit a similar offence within five years.
Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Nicholas Mathonsi who was sitting with Justice Maxwell Takuva during a criminal appeal court ruled that the application by Zivuku and Chibvuri lacked merit.
Justice Mathonsi said the lower court acted properly in finding that the pair’s moral blameworthiness was very high and warranted an effective jail term.
“Corruption by police officers is now rampant and it needs to be nipped in the bud. A non-custodial sentence would trivialise the seriousness of the offence. The courts should not be seen condoning it and in the circumstances, a prison term is called for,” said Justice Mathonsi.
In their application through lawyers, Mugiya and Macharaga Law Chambers, the two argued that they were wrongly convicted.
“The magistrate misdirected himself by convicting the appellants on the basis of a video footage shot by the complainant whose content is inadmissible and not ascertainable at law,” argued the lawyers.They argued that the video was tainted with deficiencies and allegedly shot by an amateur who then posted it on a WhatsApp platform. They said the court failed to assess the authenticity of the video footage. “No effort was done to check if the video had not been tampered with or at least minimise the possibility of interference. The magistrate further misdirected himself by relying on the video either in court or before yet there was no single moment that the complainant matched the identities and voices of the appellants,” they argued.
Chibvuri and Zivuku were discharged from the police force following their conviction but they have since appealed to the Commissioner General of Police Augustine Chihuri in a bid to prove their innocence.
For the State, Ms Nonhlanhla Ndlovu opposed the application, saying the lower court managed to prove its case against Zivuku and Chibvuri beyond reasonable doubt.
“It is submitted that court a quo properly exercised its sentencing discretion in light of the nature and circumstances of the case,” she said.
The two police officers were arrested on July 14 in 2015 at Plumtree Border Post after they threatened to arrest Mr Moyo if he did not give them a bribe.
He gave them $20 but they complained that it was not enough. Mr Moyo then requested $10 back indicating that he did not have any money left but they refused.
Upon realising that the corrupt practices of the police were continuing, he recorded a video of what was happening using his cellphone.