One of the eleven machete-wielding illegal gold panners who allegedly invaded a gold mine in Zhombe in Midlands Province and attacked a rival before robbing him of US$15 000 and extensively damaging his vehicle, has been released on $5 000 bail.

Obey Mbano (20) of Kwekwe and his 10 accomplices attacked Conilious Dube while prospecting for gold at Forever Gold Syndicate Mine and he sustained a fractured left arm and a broken leg.

The suspects used axes, pick handles, shovels and machetes to attack Conilious Dube and also stole his two cellphones. The gang accused Dube of shooting dead a colleague’s brother.

Obey Mbano (20) was granted $5 000 bail by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Evangelista Kabasa who ordered him to report once a week at Zhombe Police Station as part of the bail conditions.

It is ordered that applicant be and hereby admitted to bail in the sum of $5 000 to be deposited with the clerk of court at Kwekwe Magistrates’ Court,” ruled the judge.

Mbano was also ordered to continue residing at his given address at Samambwa village and not interfere with witnesses until the matter is finalised.

The ruling by Justice Kabasa follows Mbano’s application for bail pending trial at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.

He is facing charges of attempted murder, malicious damage to property and theft.

Mbano allegedly connived with Shepherd Marezva, Stephen Hwata, Isaac Moyo who are already in custody, Bawu Chiundura, Samuel Uranda, Denford Uranda, Godfrey Uranda, Proud Mhosva, Tinotenda Mudyandigere and Kudzai Chiundura who are all still at large, to fatally attack and rob Dube.

Mbano was represented by lawyers from CT Mugabe and Associates.

In his bail statement, Mbano is denying the charge, arguing that he only acted in self-defence after his brother had been shot dead by the complainant and his assailants.

The applicant further avers that the extent of injuries are exaggerated and did not at any time damage complainant’s vehicle nor did he steal his money,” argued Mbano’s lawyers.

It is further submitted that the charges faced by the applicant are hereby challenged and disputed and yet to be proven beyond reasonable doubt. The applicant submits that he has the onus on a balance of probabilities that he is a suitable candidate for bail.

The State, which was represented by Mr Blessing Gundani, opposed the application, arguing that they were compelling reasons warranting the accused person’s continued detention. He argued that Mbano was a flight risk having been on the run until his arrest two weeks later in Gokwe following a tip off.

It is not disputed that the applicant fled his home in Zhombe after committing the offence. He was arrested two weeks later in Gokwe, and in casu, the State stands high chances of sustaining a conviction.

The accused faces a lengthy prison term, which is highly likely to induce him to abscond trial if released on bail,” he said.

According to court papers, it was stated that on July 21 this year at around 10PM, Mbano and his accomplices went to Forever Gold Syndicate Mine in Totororo, Zhombe, armed with machetes, shovels, axes, pick handles and found the victim prospecting for gold.

They allegedly confronted him before indiscriminately attacking him all over the body as they accused him of shooting their brother dead.

The complainant sustained a fractured left arm, broken left leg and multiple cuts on the head. They allegedly went on to extensively damage his car, a Toyota Hilux Twin Cab and stole US$15 000 as well as two cellphones, which were in the car. After committing the offence, they fled leaving the victim lying unconscious.

Mbano, Marezva, Hwata and Moyo were arrested following a tip off and they are in custody. The other accomplices are still at large.

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