The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: Court Quash Decision to Convict Former Soldier

The Supreme Court on Tuesday quashed a court marshal decision to convict and imprison a former soldier for allegedly stealing some rounds of ammunition. Reason Chigogo was convicted of breaching

certain provisions of the Defence Act after some rounds of ammunition reportedly went missing from his custody.

Chigogo was demoted from the rank of master sergeant to aircraftman and subsequently discharged from the Air Force of Zimbabwe.

Justice Vernanda Ziyambi allowed the appeal by Chigogo on the basis that the court marshal had no jurisdiction to hear the case.

The court found that Chigogo was alleged to have committed the offence on September 26, 2006 but he was brought before Court Marshal in October 2009, more than the three years required by the law.

The superior court in granting the appeal relied on Section 46(4) of the Defence Act, which compels the marshal court to hear the case within three years from the date of the alleged commission of the offence.

"Thus the trial of the appellant commenced on October 21 2009 well after the three-year period specified in Section 46(4) of the Act had elapsed," read part of the judgement.

"The appeal is allowed. The conviction and sentence imposed by the court are hereby set aside."

Warara and Associates law firm represented Chigogo.

Allegations against Chigogo arose on September 25 2006 when he was instructed to be the captain of the team that was to represent the Chegutu Military base at shooting competitions held at Thornhill Air Base.

He received 2000 rounds of ammunition for AK rifles and 200 rounds of 9mm balls ammunition for use during practice in preparation for the competition.

After the competition Chigogo surrendered 153 rounds of 9mm-ball ammunition to Chegutu Air Base. Nothing further was heard about the case until nearly three yeas later after an unidentified person threw a brick smashing Chigogo's window around 2am in 2009.

Chigogo reported the incident to the police who attended the scene and made some observations.

Around 6am the same day, Chigogo discovered 22 rounds of 9mm-ball ammunition in his flowerbed and again reported to the police.

The police came and recovered the ammunition.

Investigations were carried out culminating in the summoning of Chigogo to appear before a Court Marshal on October 21 2009.

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