A prison officer based at Whawha Medium Security Prison in Gweru, who went on the rampage together with other looters during violent MDC-Alliance demonstrations in January, has been sentenced to six years in prison.
Joseph Njolomoli (29) of Mkoba 5, who was also a Whawha Football Club soccer player, appeared before Gweru provincial magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa facing charges of participating in an illegal gathering with intent to promote violence and breach of peace.
Njolomoni pleaded not guilty to the charge. He was, however, convicted after a full trial and was handed a six-year prison term. Mrs Msipa suspended a year of his sentence on condition of good behaviour.
In passing the sentence, Mrs Msipa said as a prison officer, Njolomoni was supposed to lead by example by stopping or reporting to the police the perpetrators of violence, instead of participating.
“Property worth thousands of dollars was damaged. There was loss of property for the complainant.
“You grouped and went into the bar, broke the key and gained entrance after which you looted beer, swipe machines and damaged a pool table. Whatever issues you had you had no right over complainant’s property,” she said.
“You attacked a defenceless complainant since you had a weapon, showing you had pre-planned commission of offence. The effect of the crime on complaint, country and society is uncalled and leads to lawlessness and courts have a duty to protect citizens from lawlessness and a custodial sentence will instil confidence in the justice system.”
The State case is that on January 15, Njolomoli, together with other people, convened a meeting at Mkoba 5 with the intention of causing disturbances in the city.
The court heard that on January 16, Njolomoli and a group of protesters blocked Mkoba 5 turn-off using logs, stones and tyres.
Residents who allegedly identified Njolomoli, among the protesters, informed the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services, who then sent three officers to apprehend him before they handed him to the police. Mr Talent Tadenyika appeared for the State.