A serving Air Force of Zimbabwe member, Christopher Tafadzwa Charuma, who is facing armed robbery, murder and attempted murder charges has been granted a ZW$30 000 bail by the Supreme Court.
Charuma, who was arrested together with fellow soldiers Lameck Kamara, Perseverance Chihota, Tongesai Katoma and Joseph John, initially appeared at the Harare Magistrates Court and was denied bail.
The soldiers were accused of robbing a Harare family of US$40 000 on December 28 last year before killing Elvis Chijaka and seriously wounding Brian Chijaka in the process.
Magistrate Yeukai Dzuda asked the accused persons to apply for bail at the High Court.
The accused persons approached the High Court on January 6 this year and appeared before Justices Rodgers Manyangadze and Joseph Chilimbe, who dismissed their bail application, saying the offences were serious and upon conviction, they may face lengthy jail terms.
They also ruled that the charge of murder could result in the accused persons being sentenced to death.
But through his lawyer Peter Patisani, he argued in the Supreme Court on appeal that he was a good candidate for bail since the State’s case was weak, adding that the seriousness of the offences alone was not good enough ground to deny him bail.
His lawyer also argued that his client, Charuma, was not at the crime scene and had no idea that his firearm would be used to commit the crimes.
The lawyer submitted that the State’s case was further weakened by the fact that it was relying on a doctrine of common purpose which is no longer part of Zimbabwean law. Patisani argued:
The appellant anticipates an acquittal since the State case is based on a common law doctrine of common purpose which is no longer part of our law, therefore, the State case is weak.
The Supreme Court granted Charuma bail on the condition that he surrenders his passport, reports three times at the nearest police station and that he does not interfere with witnesses and investigations.