Crime & courts

Pirate driver shoved into boot of own car by robbers

A pirating Honda Fit driver endured moments of anguish when three robbers who had hired him shoved him into the boot of his car in Mabutweni, Bulawayo, before driving to town where they intended to commit robberies.

However, the driver Mr Bukhosi Mhlalelwa (21), managed to open the boot of the car from inside when his alleged kidnappers stopped to buy a meal at a fast-food outlet in the city centre and fled from the scene.

His alleged kidnappers, Thabo Mthombeni (29), Xolisani Sibanda (21) and Charles Nhlanhla Sidungero Zondo Ncube, tried to chase him down but Mr Mhlalelwa managed to outpace the trio to a hiking point outside Tredgold Building where he was given a shirt by a member of the public as his had been torn during the alleged kidnap.

The movie like details emerged last week when Sibanda and Mthombeni appeared before Bulawayo regional magistrate, Mr Mark Dzira at the Bulawayo Magistrates Court to answer to charges of assault and carjacking.

They pleaded not guilty but Mr Dzira remanded them in custody to Friday for trial.

Prosecuting, Mr Jeremiah Mutsindikwa told the court that on 24 May at about 12 midnight, Mr Mhlalelwa who was driving a Honda Fit blue in colour from the city centre to Pumula, gave Mthombeni and Sibanda a lift.

When they got to White City Stadium along Khami Road, Mthombeni and Sibanda requested him to take them on errands in the western suburbs and city centre for a negotiated fee of US$20. The court heard that when the two were done with their errands they indicated that they will pay the money in the morning and they exchanged numbers with Mr Mhlalelwa.

Mr Mutsindikwa told the court that the following morning, they met Mr Mhlalelwa and told him they had to collect the money at Mabutweni Shopping Centre from Charles Nhlanhla Sidungero Zondo Ncube.

The court heard that when they got to Ncube they proposed that they wanted to use the car for robberies of which the driver refused. The court heard that Mthombeni slapped Mr Mhlalelwa on the face after he declined and forcibly took his car keys.

On confronting them, Mr Mhlalelwa was further assaulted and forced into his vehicle’s boot and he also suffered minor injuries on the shoulder. Mthombeni, Zondo Ncube and Sibanda then took possession of the vehicle and drove to a fast food outlet in the city centre to buy food where Mr Mhlalelwa upon realising the car had stopped managed to open the boot from inside and fled.

The court was told that on 26 May police officers spotted the car at Mabutweni Shopping Centre and tried to arrest the offenders. However, they escaped despite warning shots being fired at them.

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