A notorious housebreaker who was part of a gang that ransacked businessman Mr Wicknell Chivayo’s Ballantyne Park, Harare, home before getting away with property worth thousands of dollars, was yesterday jailed for an effective 11 years for illegal possession of firearms and articles for criminal use.
In passing sentence, Harare magistrate Mr Musaiona Shortgame took into account that Lamusi Nthula (55) of Chipatiko Village under Chief Chinamhora, had been on the run for many years.
Nthula absconded court in 2011 before judgment was passed on charges of contravening the Firearms Act and possession of articles for criminal use. He resurfaced last month following his arrest in connection with 13 counts of unlawful entry.
Mr Shortgame ruled that Nthula was a fugitive who was not fit for community service. On the two counts of illegally possessing firearms, Nthula was sentenced to a combined 10 years and another year was added for possessing articles for criminal use. Mr Shortgame did not set aside part of the jail term and effected 11 years.
“When you were arrested, you were in possession of a bag which contained a firearm, gloves, bolt cutter, screwdriver and a torch, a clear indication that you were on a mission. The second gun was recovered in your garden and though you tried to deny that it belonged to you, the State managed to prove its case beyond any reasonable doubt,” he said.
“What is aggravatory is that these offences are on the rise, therefore, a message needs to be sent to would-be offenders that crime does not pay. You have no licence for the firearms therefore putting the society at risk because firearms are lethal. If robberies are committed with unlicensed firearms involved, the police will have difficulties in tracing the firearms.”
The magistrate added that by moving around during the night with the dangerous weapons, Nthula intended to use them to gain entry into premises unlawfully.
“You intended to pounce on unsuspecting people during the night and by travelling all the way from Domboshava where you reside to Avondale, (you) showed that this was premeditated,” he said.
Mr Shortgame called Nthula a liar who fabricated his defence which was full of lies and conflicting statements. In his mitigation, Nthula pleaded for the court’s mercy saying he was unemployed with four children, two of them in boarding schools and this prompted the court to question how he earned a living.
He later shifted goalposts and said he was self-employed. Nthula will be back in court tomorrow together with his alleged accomplice, Ignatius Magaya, to answer to 13 counts of unlawful entry.
The pair is accused of terrorising Borrowdale and Ballantyne Park homes in Harare robbing property worth thousands of dollars. Allegations are that on April 10 this year while Mr Chivayo was in England, Nthula and Magaya gained entry into his house and stole various clothing items and assorted shoes.
On September 15 last year at around 2am, they went to Mr Michael Cain’s house in The Grange and gained entry after smashing the garage window. They allegedly stole 20 litres of diesel, a battery charger, a chain saw and a grass cutter and escaped unnoticed.
On October 2 last year, they stole a solar panel, inverter, two-plate gas stove, gas tank and an HP computer from Mr Lovemore Madembo’s house. The pair used the same method to steal from various complainants.