A man facing charges of stock theft stunned a court gallery in Gweru when he said he was pressed to steal the cattle to settle legal fees owed to a lawyer. The lawyer had represented him in a previous criminal case.
During cross examination, Temba Dube, who was arrested together with Alec Tshugulu (48) -- a bookkeeper at Chitere Chidawanyika Legal practitioners and police Constable Jacob Chisirimunhu, who cleared the five stolen beasts said the five beasts were part of legal fees owed to Mr Tonderai Chitere -- the owner of the legal firm.
The three appeared before Gweru magistrate, Mr Edwin Marecha on Monday and pleaded not guilty to stock theft. They were remanded to April 26 on $5 000 bail each.
The State's case against the three is that on 9 April, Alec Tshugulu visited Gweru Central Police Station and asked Constable Chisirimunhu to clear the cattle.
The court heard that Chisirimunhu then cleared five cattle using Gweru Central form 392 serial number 3331511 without visiting the scene. Tshugulu only gave the description of the beasts to Chisirimunhu while they were in the police office.
It is the State's case that Tshugulu then hired a truck to Ruby Farm where he met Dube before they loaded the five cattle into the truck at night. They were then stopped by some farmers who were suspicious of their movements during the night.
The villagers also sought the assistance of a local member of the neighbourhood watch committee and took the accused to Gweru Rural Police Station where they were detained.
Some of the farmers from the Ruby area managed to identify their cattle, the court further heard.