CCTV footage nails shutdown looters

Two men from Bulawayo who looted goods worth more than $11000 at a Nketa 9 supermarket during the January protests have been sentenced to five years in prison after they were positively identified through the supermarket`s CCTV footage.

Celtone Hlongwanie (26) and Phathisani Dube (24), Monday, pleaded guilty to unlawful entry and theft charges.

Bulawayo Provincial magistrate Tinashe Tashaya sentenced the pair to five years in prison.

Tashaya handed the pair an effective four years in prison and suspended one year on condition they do not commit a similar offence in the next five years.

In mitigation, Dube, who works for Garrons Industries at Kelvin Industrial area, told the court that his company had been closed for several days and he had run out of cash.

“The company I work for had been closed for several days and I had run out of money to use around the house. I’m sorry for my conduct. May the court be lenient with me in passing its sentence,” he pleaded.

Hlongwane said he looted the goods so that he could sell them at a profit and supplement his income since he is unemployed.

“I do not have a job your worship. I intended to use the money to fend for myself. I erred. May the court not be too harsh on me when passing its sentence,” pleaded Hlongwane.

Prosecutor Alfonse Makonese told the court the pair were seen on a CCTV footage breaking the padlocks on the supermarket’s entrance with an iron bar.

Makonese said Hlongwane and Dube were part of a crowd which engaged in public violence at Eternity supermarket on January 15 at around 10 AM.

“An informant recognised the pair amongst a mob of protesters holding an iron bar from a CCTV footage. They used the bar to break the security locks at the main entrance of the supermarket.

“The pair and other protesters gained entry and into the supermarket where goods worth a total of $11923.00 were looted and nothing was recovered,” said Makonese.

A total of 181 shops in Bulawayo were broken into and vandalised during the January protests with goods worth $19.5 million looted.

Most of the shops were not insured and the shop owners lost their company documents and shop licenses during the protests.


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