Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
A ROGUE vendor who assaulted a police officer conducting his duties has been fined $300 or risks going to prison for four months. In addition, Barnabas Mwanaka (35) was sentenced to six months in prison, which were wholly suspended for five years on condition he does not commit a similar offence within that period.
Mwanaka, who is on remand on a murder charge, was convicted of assault by Ms Victoria Mashamba after a full trial. He was however acquitted on the charge of defeating or obstructing the course of justice. On the murder charge, Mwanaka and his alleged accomplices reportedly attacked and killed a policeman during an illegal and violent demonstration recently.
They allegedly stoned Talkmore Phiri (rank not given) and his workmate, Constable Concillia Gumbo, who fell from a police vehicle as a result. The accused persons proceeded to punch and kick Phiri, leading to his death. On the assault charge, prosecutor Ms Patience Chimusaru urged the court to send Mwanaka to prison, saying he did not have respect for the law itself and the law enforcement agents.
“Your worship, cases of civilians assaulting police officers are on the increase because mostly when the perpetrators are brought to court, they are getting non-custodial sentences that are not deterrent enough,” she said.
“In this case, the convicted person assaulted a cop who was clad in police uniform in the full view of the public. The court should give him a short and sharp jail term so that a message is sent to would-be offenders. There is need for the courts to protect the law and law enforcement agents.” On July 8, at around 1pm, Constables Mugura, Chidawa, Ndlovu and Matingo were on duty in the CBD when they saw a kombi driver picking and dropping passengers at an undesignated place.
Cst Mugura, who was holding a spike, walked towards the kombi intending to arrest the driver. He instructed the driver not to move his vehicle as he was now under arrest. It is the State’s case that Mwanaka, who was standing close by, approached Cst Mugura and slapped him on the face. While assaulting the police officer, Mwanaka allegedly said: “Mupurisa weZANU unofira mahara because wanga wandikuvadzisa nespike rako.” He further manhandled Cst Mugura while grabbing him by the collar as he tried to pin him down. Fellow officers, who were on duty together with Cst Mugura, rushed to the scene and rescued their workmate. Cst Mugura sustained injuries and sought medical attention.