Granting bail to a police inspector and his three co-accused charged with illegal acquisition and sale of 55 rifles to armed robbers and poachers, will compromise public safety and State security, the High Court has ruled.
Chinhoyi police armoury officer-in-charge Inspector Crive Kadambure, Edmore Manuwere, former police officer Wonder Kwaramba, and Patrick Chirara are also accused of smuggling guns out of the country.
All the 55 rifles remain unaccounted for by the suspected criminal syndicate that has sucked in Kadambure and Kwaramba.
In denying the accused bail, Justice Benjamin Chikowero took a judicial notice of the surge in cases of robberies committed using firearms, both registered and unregistered.
"In my judgment, the sense of peace and security among members of the public will be undermined by the release of applicants," he said. "This is so, because even at bail hearing stage, the picture which is before me is that fifty-five high calibre firearms have fallen into the wrong hands."
Criminal law was not only for those accused of breaking its dictates. It was critical to balance that against the society's legitimate concern and in the process of weighing the scales of justice. So Justice Chikowero found that the release of the gang would undermine the public confidence in the criminal justice system.
Additionally, the multiplicity of the counts preferred against each applicant also convinced the court that the applicants had a disposition of committing offences of a similar nature. The court heard that some fake certificates bearing the applicants names reflected fictitious addresses, with some of the addresses though existent, were for people who had nothing to do about the purchase of the firearms. A total of nine rifles form the subject of nine counts Kadambure is facing.
Three different firearms dealers are said to have sold the weapons to Kadambure over five years from 2016 to this year.
Twenty-two accounts were preferred against Manuwere over the same period with five dealers said to have sold him the weapons. He allegedly sold 20 of them to poachers and armed robbers. Some are alleged to have been smuggled out of the country.
Kwaramba is facing 17 counts, some of which arose from alleged dealings in firearms.
Despite the fact that Kwaramba resigned from the police two years ago, six out of the 17 counts he is facing are alleged to have been committed after he had left the police service.
In addition to those firearms alleged to have been smuggled out of the country, some are said to have been sold to poachers and armed robbers. Three registered firearms dealers sold the guns to Kwaramba.
Chirara is charged with nine counts. Seven counts relate to alleged dealing in firearms in 2019 with two being for this year. Nine rifles were involved, with two registered firearms dealers having sold the weapons to him.