Senior police officers in costly treasure hunt

Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi
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THREE senior police officers from the Asset Forfeiture Unit in Harare endured a nightmarish Christmas break after being arrested for allegedly digging a Nyanyadzi homestead in search of an undisclosed hidden treasure.

Shepherd Tachiona (50) (Detective Superintendent)of Dawnview Park, Harare; Mkhululi Nyoni (51) (Detective Chief Inspector) of Manyame Park, Chitungwiza and Monica Madzima (Detective Inspector) of Chipukutu Park, Ruwa — who are attached to the Asset and Forfeiture Unit, CID Headquarters in Harare, — spent three nights in custody following their arrest.

They were not asked to plead when they appeared before Mutare provincial magistrate, Mr Tendai Mahwe, on Wednesday, facing criminal abuse of duty as a public officer charges as defined in Section 174 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, Chapter 9.23.

They were remanded out of custody to January 1, 2024 on US$50 bail each.

Mr Mahwe ordered them to not interfere with State witnesses, and to continue residing at their given addresses.

Mutare District public prosecutor, Mr Tirivanhu Mutyasira appeared for the State, while Mr Joseph Nemaisa appeared for the accused persons.

The State had opposed bail, arguing that the evidence linking the accused persons to committing the offence was overwhelming as they were allegedly found in the course of commission of the offence and that there are several witnesses to that effect.

It is alleged that the accused persons, in the exercise of their functions as public officers, intentionally dug the homestead yard of Ms Simangaliso Memory Mushaya in search of a treasure allegedly hidden underground without authority from their principal as well as engagement of other relevant Government experts, for the purpose of showing disfavour to the State; a conduct which is contrary to or inconsistent with their duty as public officers.

Mr Mutyasira said on December 22, Tachiona, Nyoni and Madzima proceeded to Nyanyadzi Irrigation Scheme in search of a treasure allegedly hidden underground there.

“Upon arrival in Nyanyadzi, they approached the house owner, Ms Simangaliso Memory Mushaya armed with a warrant of search and seizure issued on October 18, 2023 at Chipinge Magistrates’ Court by the resident magistrate, Mr Mkwananzi (Franklyn). They informed the house owner that they intended to dig her homestead’s yard in search of the hidden treasure,” said Mr Mutyasira.

The owner of the homestead allegedly complied with the given instruction.

“In pursuit of their mission, the accused persons had not advised their principal before embarking on the mission as is the norm. Further, they had not engaged other relevant Government departments for their expert services. Instead, they had sought the services of one structural surveyor, Victor Mukungunugwa employed by Zimbabwe National Geospatial and Space Agency whom they intended to pay for his services in their personal capacity.

“They had also sought the services of a prophet, Revesai Matimba, who claims to have spiritual powers to detect precious minerals,” said Mr Mutyasira.

It is alleged that the accused persons were later intercepted by the police in the midst of digging in search of the alleged hidden treasure on Christmas Day.

“Upon inquiries, it was discovered that the accused persons were not on official duty, but rather on a frolic of their own. The accused persons were also found in possession of various articles for use in their pursuit of the treasure,” said Mr Mutyasira.

National police spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathisaid: “We can confirm the arrest of Superintendent Tachiona, Detective Chief Inspector Nyoni and Detective Inspector Madzima for criminal abuse of office. They have since appeared in court and were remanded in custody pending bail application,” he said.

Assistant Commissioner Nyathi said the police command does not tolerate any criminal acts by its officers. – Manica Post