HIGH Court judge Justice Tawanda Chitapi has rejected bail applications by two of the suspects in the US$2,7 million cash-intransit heist that occurred in January.
Trymore Chapfika and Charles Chirara initially applied for bail separately at the High Court, but the applications were later consolidated after the prosecution led by Beaven Murevanhema submitted that the pair was co-accused in the same case.
Dismissing the application, Chitapi noted that the two were likely to abscond for fear of the long prison sentences they faced if convicted. “There is a likelihood that they will abscond, especially given the gravity of the offence and the likely penalty upon conviction which could be life imprisonment given the circumstances of aggravation which are alleged to be present in that firearms were used in the robbery,” the judge ruled.
Chitapi also noted that granting the pair bail would undermine the objectives of the criminal justice system. “Indeed apart from the risk of absconding, the circumstances of the commission of the offence going by the uncontroverted allegations of how the robbery was committed and sharing of proceeds, of which large amounts of money were recovered from the applicants and such possession requiring explanation, the granting of bail to the applicants as matters stand will undermine the objectives of bail and the criminal justice system,” Justice Chitapi said.
The duo, allegedly part of the gang that ambushed a bank cash in transit van on January 6, were arrested later that same month after they were implicated by their co-accused who had been arrested.
Chapfika appeared before a Harare magistrate on January 13 for initial remand and was advised to approach the High Court for bail.
In his bail application, Chapfika claimed that he had an alibi. He claimed that on the day of the robbery, he was at his market stall in Magaba, Mbare, where he sells steel products. He also claimed that the US$28 900 the police recovered from his mother in Mbare belonged to his brother Alfred Shumba, who is also suspected to have been a part of the gang and is currently at large.
Chirara, a member of the Zimbabwean National Army, who was arrested at the 5.2 Infantry Battalion at Battlefields, is also accused of interfering with witnesses after he allegedly called his wife and sister and instructed them to hide the money that was in his house.