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Chikurubi prison officer in spate of armed robberies






A prison officer at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison who is accused of stealing ammunition from his workplace before teaming up with armed robbers in a spree of robberies in Harare pleaded not guilty when his trial took off on Tuesday. The prison officer, Warren Hazvienzani Katiro (35) allegedly shot a security guard at police commissioner Olga Bungu's house and two foreign currency dealers in separate occasions.

He is facing attempted murder charges and is represented by lawyer Mr Stephen Chikotora. Katiro raised an alibi as defence and told the court that he was on duty the day the offence was committed.

"The police failed to arrest perpetrators of the crime and now they want to nail the accused," said Mr Chikotora. The court heard that Katiro lives at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison Old Camp.

The prosecutor, Mr Ephraim Zinyandu, alleged that sometime in May last year, Katiro stole an unknown amount of 9mm rounds of ammunition from his workplace. He asked for a lift into town on May 18 from his workmate Moses Chabanga.

He allegedly met Allan Mutemachani and Rodwell Joe and they went to No. 241 Samora Machel Avenue in Belvedere, Harare.  They called Yeukai Chimhanda, who was on guard at Commissioner Bungu's residence by name.

Chimhanda, who was armed with an AK47 rifle, went outside to answer to the call and was shot on the left side by Katiro. They drove off and spent cartridges were recovered at the crime scene.

Two days later, Katiro allegedly trailed a foreign currency dealer Courage Mawonde from Road Port Bus Terminus in Harare to his home in New Tafara. Upon arrival, it is alleged Katiro fired two shots at Mawonde's brother Norbert, who fell down after the bullets missed him.

Courage tried to run away with a satchel containing $3 000 and R20 000, but was shot on the right thigh and groin and fell down. One of the accused rushed to snatch the satchel, but was struck with an iron bar on the back by one of Courage's relatives who was at the scene. The trio retreated and sped off in their getaway vehicle.

It is alleged that on May 25 last year at around midnight, another foreign currency dealer Edwin Manyika was coming from Roadport going to Ruwa. While in Ruwa and walking towards his house, the accused stopped him and demanded cash.

The court heard that he ignored them and continued walking, but one of the accused fired a shot at Manyika hitting him in the stomach. Manyika's younger brother dragged him into the house and the accused followed.

Another shot was fired which missed Manyika. Eventually Manyika was shot on the right shoulder. The accused did not manage to steal anything and fled. Recovered cartridges matched those recovered at crime scenes at Commissioner Bungu's residence and in New Tafara. Katiro was arrested on May 28 and admitted to supplying ammunition to his accomplices.

On June 20 last year, Mutemachani was gunned down while exchanging fire with the police. Harare magistrate Ms Lucy Mungwari postponed trial to February 23.

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Chikurubi prison officer in spate of armed robberies
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