HARARE – Former CID vehicle theft squad detective, Gilbert Zvaita, has been jailed for three-and-a-half years after the court found him guilty of theft of a motor vehicle.
Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya sentenced Zvaita to five years in prison and suspended one-and-a-half years on condition he does not commit an offence of a similar nature within the next four years.
He was acquitted of the first count of unlawful entry.
On February 28 this year, Zvaita connived with Golden Magweje and Joseph Makanuka, who both died in a shoot-out with police to steal a white truck belonging to Zvishiri before looting several of his belongings.
He proceeded to apply for a duplicate registration book at the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) for Makarau’s vehicle which had been damaged beyond repair in an accident. He misrepresented that he had been sent on her behalf.
In mitigation, Zvaita’s lawyer said the court should treat his case leniently since he was a first time offender.
“He is a first time offender, married with four children and survived on processing change of ownership of motor vehicles raising about $400. It was, according to him, trying to earn an honest living that led him to breach the law,” said the legal representative.
“He has minimal moral blame worthiness on his part and has already been exposed as a criminal. The trial has been published from the day of commencement and accused person has already been punished. The special circumstances existing should allow the court to save him from imprisonment, if deemed lenient a short custodial period, with a large part suspended would meet the justice of the case.”
He blamed the state for “bringing the name of the good judge to court. It was not his intention to drag Makarau’s name into the matter,” he said.
The state argued that the offence was premeditated and Zvaita took his time to commit it.
The state gunned for a stiff penalty of not less than 10 years imprisonment.
On June 5, Zvaita went to Southerton Police Station and reported that the registration book of the vehicle which belongs to Makarau was lost in the CBD.
He obtained a lost property list form, the ZRP Form 162 with Lost Property Book Reference number 356/13 and went to CID Vehicle Theft Squad where he obtained a clearance CVR 4 form.
Zvaita used the CVR 4 form to apply for a duplicate registration book and new number plates at CVR. He was issued with new registration plates ACX891 in Makarau’s name and he affixed them on the car they had stolen.
Central Vehicle Registry accountant Tendai Livingstone Mubvumbi, who was responsible for authorising and processing a duplicate registration book belonging to Makarau, said he issued the document because Zvaita had met the necessary prerequisite for attaining them.