US$87.5k exhibits disappear from Police
HARARE-Thirty-Five motorbikes seized as exhibits by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) Criminal Investigations Department (CID) with a selling value of US$87 500 have disappeared from their custody.
The 35 motorbikes belonging to Chiredzi farmer Tony Renato Sarpo were seized in 2017 after his partners at Yagden Engineering Pvt Limited, Wayne Williams and Regis Maburutse reported him for theft of trust property
The bikes were seized by CID Harare Commercial Crimes Division and instead of being kept at the Police station, they were kept at a Yagden warehouse in Chiredzi after the company’s Loss Control manager Solomon Mateta signed an indemnity form.
Williams claimed he gave Sarpo US$150 000 from the company but diverted the motorbikes to personal use.
Harare Resident Magistrate Ruramai Chitumbura acquitted Sarpo of the charges in March 2023, after he produced the Customs Clearance Certificate for the motorbike kits. They showed that they were imported for US$64 443, not US$150 000, as claimed by Williams.
She issued a grant order for the motorbikes to be released to Sarpo.
Part of her order, dated May 4, 2023, reads: “RE: Release of exhibits State vs Tony Renato Sarpo CRB HREP4035/17. In respect of the 3rd count the accused was found not guilty and acquitted therefore the 35 unassembled motorbikes are to be returned to the accused person.”
CID Harare Commercial Crimes Division (CCD) Officer-In-Charge, Detective Inspector Hillary Mazhekete, confirmed to The Mirror that the motorbikes are missing but referred all the questions to the national Police Spokesperson Paul Nyathi.
However, Nyathi did not respond to the questions. He did not pick up calls either.
When Sarpo went to CCD to ask for assistance to retrieve the exhibits back into his care, they were not there. It is alleged the motorbikes were disposed of during the trial while they were still State exhibits, and some of the CID officials received the motorbikes to facilitate the unlawful release of the motorbikes.
CID spokesperson Rachael Muteweri said she would respond later, but when called she kept dropping the calls. Williams said he was not well and went on to say the case happened long back and is no longer interested in it.
However, Sarpo said he is going to make a formal complaint with the Police because the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, [9:07] Section 58A (1) reads: “if within 21 working days from the date- (a) When an article is seized and a receipt was therefore given (provided the dates shown on the receipts shall be determinative if it is dated later than the day of seizure)”
(e) reads: “…the seized article shall (unless the article in question is one whose possession is intrinsically unlawful) be returned as soon as possible by the police officer who detained it, or by any person acting in his or her self to the premises, place, vehicle, vessel or aircraft where it was removed or, where that is impracticable, be availed for collection at such a place as the police officer shall direct the owner or the possessor thereof to go unless the police officer earlier, upon at least seventy-two hour’s notice to the owner or possessor thereof, serves upon him or her written notice of continued retention of the seized article…”
“What the police did violates the Act. I am going to launch a formal complaint with the Police. You know this is a serious offence and I wonder why Williams and Maburutse are not being arrested,” said Sarpo.