A cattle thief from Somnene Plot in Plumtree, Matabeleland South province who was arrested in a dramatic fashion after his accomplice made a stunning confession on his deathbed has been slapped with a 31-year jail sentence.
Kenneth Kenesi Sibanda (56) received his jail package when he appeared before Tsholotsho resident magistrate Victor Mpofu facing three counts of stocktheft as defined in Section 114 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
Sibanda, who pleaded not guilty to all the three counts was convicted on the strength of the State’s evidence.
He will, however, serve an effective 28 years after three years of the sentence were suspended for five years on condition of good behaviour.
Circumstances are that before he died, his accomplice Lovemore Mhlanga made a deathbed confession, coming clean to his aunt Loveness Mhlanga (51) from Efusini Extension in Tsholotsho, who had no idea that he had betrayed her trust when he connived with Sibanda to sell three of her cattle that she had given him for safekeeping.
The State, led by prosecutor Asher Chindedza, told the court that in the first account sometime in 2010, the complainant, who is Loveness, gave 10 head of cattle to her uncle Lovemore, who is now deceased, for safekeeping as she did not have a kraal at her homestead.
It is reported that at that time Lovemore, who stayed at Remta Village in Nyamandlovu, agreed and the cattle were put in his name.
The court heard that one of the heifers started giving him problems as it was always straying into one of the farmers Morrison Ndlovu’s farm in Village 2 Seafield Valley in Nyamandlovu.
It was proven that the now deceased connived with the accused and went to Ndlovu’s farm and took the heifer valued at US$400 which the accused took to his rural home in Plumtree where it later calved twice.
In the second account the court heard that sometime in 2018 the complainant’s uncle again connived with the accused to sell her ox valued at US$600.
Sibanda then moved the beast from Remta Village, Nyamandlovu to his homestead in Plumtree where he later sold it.
The State stated that sometime in 2019, using the same modus operandi, the now deceased again connived with Sibanda and took the complainant’s bull that was under his care and again sold it in Plumtree. The bull was reportedly valued at US$800.
Surprisingly, in all the three counts the accused never had a police clearance for any of the transactions yet the beasts were moved from Nyamandlovu to Plumtree.
The matter, however, came to light when Lovemore became sick and on his deathbed he reportedly confessed to the complainant that one of her heifers was taken by Sibanda and that it had two calves.
He also told the complainant that she was supposed to get some of the beasts from the accused as replacement for the ones which they had sold without her consent.
After the death of Lovemore the complainant reportedly confronted the accused who requested for a meeting so that they could resolve the issue amicably.
It is reported that during the meeting Sibanda agreed to return the complainant’s beasts and Loveness in good faith gave him US$800 and the money was meant to clear the beasts from Plumtree to Nyamandlovu.
The accused who initially agreed to return the complainant’s beasts later reneged on his promise leading the complainant to report the matter to the police and inform them about Lovemore’s confession.
Investigations by the police led to Sibanda’s arrest and subsequent appearance in court.