Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
A 55-year-old Harare man convicted of armed robbery last week together with 11 others, started stealing in 1979 and never looked back, resulting in him being convicted on several occasions between then and now, it emerged in court yesterday.
Charles Nyandoro began living a life of crime when he was only 17-years- old. After the 1979 conviction, Nyandoro was back in the courts after independence in 1980, 1982 and twice in 1984 for assault and rape.
He was arrested in 1988, 1991 and 2006 for robbery. Nyandoro told Harare regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya yesterday that his first conviction in 1979 was his way of celebrating the country’s imminent independence.
He said he committed the offences while he was still youthful and the country was still in turmoil. This prompted Mr Mujaya to ask: “When are you going to stop (stealing)?” In the latest conviction last week, it emerged that Nyandoro and his gang members were all hard-core criminals with previous records of con- victions.
The gang unleashed terror in Chinhoyi, Banket, Chegutu, Kadoma, Kwekwe, Masvingo, Bulawayo and Gutu through armed robbery.
One gang member, Simbarashe Tavengwa (37), was sentenced to 30 years for murder and another crime in 2014. He committed the armed robberies while on bail pending appeal against the 30-year sentence.
Tavengwa denied the conviction and asked the court to produce the original record of the alleged crimes. Tinashe Chikara (49), who is a former police officer, was sentenced to eight years in jail in 2012.
Rodwell Mutunya (34), who worked as a mechanic for fellow accused Mgcini Ramachela (33), was arrested in 2006 for stealing a motor vehicle. He told the court that he had no idea that he was hanging out with bad company with previous convictions.
The other gang members are Ngonidzashe Mutiba (36), Titus Chatukuta (35), Ray Shangari (35), Tinashe Matinyenya (28), Wilson Kaneta (33), Khumbulani Ncube (35) and Takafa Vumbunu (33). The gang was found guilty on eight counts of armed robbery and contravening the Firearms and Explosives Act.
Mr Mujaya acquitted Doubty Mharadze (39) and Happymore Muchenje (23). The gang was arrested following an incident at Ayrshire Mine in Banket on August 4, 2015 when they waylaid two security vehicles transporting about 6,5kg of gold from the mine to Fidelity Printers in Harare.
Armed with six pistols, an AK-47 assault rifle, axes, iron bars and two sets of spikes, they prepared to attack Safeguard Security cash-in-transit vehicles.
The gang threw spikes at the vehicles and emerged from the bush, wearing matching blue worksuits and face masks and at the same time, opening fire at the fleeing security vehicles.
They used axes, hammers and crowbars to smash the front screen and side windows of the armoured vehicle carrying gold.
The gang kept randomly firing at the stationary vehicle, while the security crew returned fire, resulting in Vumbunu getting shot. The blood trail left behind was taken for forensic examination and matched Vumbunu’s.