Jerrycan links Taj Abdul gang to spate of robberies

A victim of armed robbery yesterday positively identified a jerry can which had his initials at the bottom, as the High Court murder trial of suspected armed robber Musa Taj Abdul and his eight co-accused entered the third day yesterday.

Mr Daniel Gadzikwa was a victim of an armed robbery which took place at his residence in Concession on October 19, 2019.

One of the nine suspects in the dock, Elisha Manhanga and his co-accomplice Gerald Chiro, were allegedly found in possession of the jerrycan that was produced in court as an exhibit, following police investigations of another robbery that was committed in Murehwa on October 21, 2019.

Chiro was let off the trial after he pleaded a defence of diminished responsibility due to insanity. He is now awaiting medical examination to ascertain his mental condition, before he is put on trial.

Mr Gadzikwa narrated his ordeal at the hands of a gang of armed robbers that pounced at his house and attacked him with iron bars at gun point, before ransacking the house and made off with cash amounting to US$1 500, a digital camera, cellphones and laptops.

The witness, who appeared to be still traumatised by the incident, was testifying in the ongoing murder trial of Taj Abdul, Manhanga, Prince Makodza, Liberty Mupamhanga, Rudolph Kanhanga, Innocent Jairos, Tapiwa Mangoma, Godfrey Mupamhanga and Charles Lundu.

They are denying murdering the late Mr Courage Ingwani at his Southview Park Fidelity in Harare on October 18, 2019.

Mr Gadzikwa also told Justice Munamato Mutevedzi, sitting with assessors Mr Remigius Jemwa and Mr Bothwel Kunaka, that the gang also broke the family’s carport and stole three 20 litre jerry cans with diesel inscribed “DG” at the bottom with one of them having been patched on one side.

“I reported the matter at Concession police station,” said Mr Gadzikwa.

“The police attended the scene and recovered spent cartridges at the kitchen door and my wallet with its contents a few metres away.”

Later, Mr Gadzikwa told the court that he received information from the police that the accused persons had been arrested in Mutawatawa, in Mashonaland East Province, in another case of attempted robbery.

He said he was informed that a jerrycan was among the items recovered from the gang and was invited to come to Murehwa for identification of the recovered property.

“I went to Murehwa where I managed to positively identify one of the jerrycans that had my initials inscribed at the bottom and was patched on one side at the base,” said Mr Gadzikwa.

Manhanga’s lawyer Mr Kombo Manenji of Manyangadze Legal Practice cross- examined the witness, who could not positively identify Manhanga as one of the gang member that attacked his home. The witness could not dispute Mr Manenji’s suggestion that he could not be the only one with initials “DG” that were inscribed on the jerrycan.

Mr Gadzikwa, however, said he easily identified his jerry can by the features he put on it.

Mr Manenji also suggested to the witness that the jerrycan was not found in possession of his client, but was found in an abandoned vehicle in Murewa.

In his response, Mr Gadzikwa said the investigation officer was better placed to answer the question and not him, since it was the police who invited him to identify his stolen property.

The legal counsel for Manhanga’s co-accomplices also cross-examined the witness to see if he could identify their clients, as the gang that assaulted his home.

The nine men were arrested separately in Beitbridge and were found in possession of a Vector pistol which through ballistics was matched to the cartridges found at Mr Ingwani’s house and at the scene of the Concession robbery.

The gang was early this year tried and convicted on a charge of illegal possession of the firearm, being the same weapon that was used to shoot Mr Ingwani.

They are all denying the charge of murder claiming they were elsewhere when the crime took place.

While the witnesses cannot positively identify the masked gang members that raided Mr Ingwani’s house and killed him, the prosecution is building its case on linking the gang to the weapon used and other evidence.

But the defence team sought to cast doubt that the man killed during the robbery was shot by any robbers by suggesting that the late Mr Ingwani could have accidentally shot himself given the nature of the injury he sustained, coupled with the angle on which he was holding his firearm at the time he shot at the intruders.

It also sought to link State witness, Mr Simon Mutaringe, who was providing security services at the raided house, to the offence by suggesting he was working with the robbery gang that assaulted Mr Ingwani’s house. Herald

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