THE Kitwe High Court has sentenced three men to 20 years imprisonment each with hard labour for robbing a taxi driver of his vehicle.
High Court Judge, Judy Mulongoti sent to jail Martin Longwe, William Subakanya and Charles Kalukanga who were charged with aggravated robbery after they stole a Toyota Spacio valued at K32 million from Bernard Lungu.
In delivering judgment, Ms Justice Mulongoti found that Mr Lungu’s vehicle was reported stolen in Kitwe on March 17, last year and on the same date, Longwe drove the vehicle to Lusaka.
The vehicle was recovered the following day in Lusaka from the three accused persons.
The court was satisfied with Mr Lungu’s evidence which was corroborated by other witnesses and stated that the State had proved the offence of theft beyond reasonable doubt.
On the ingredient of threat or use of force which must be proved to convict someone for aggravated robbery, the court observed that Mr Lungu was attacked using a rope and one of the assailants pointed what appeared to be a gun at him.
Ms Justice Mulongoti said Mr Lungu was therefore a victim of violence or threats of violence.
“Although the convicts are first offenders, cases of aggravated robbery against taxi drivers are on the increase, taxi drivers provide a service to members of the public and should therefore not be operating in fear,” she said.
Ms Justice Mulongoti noted that in defence, Longwe said he had hired the vehicle from Mr Lungu while the other two accused persons only got a lift from him.
She observed that one of the prosecution witnesses reported that the vehicle was stolen by three people and the same vehicle was found with the same number of people attempting to sell it without documentation.
In mitigation, the trio through legal aid counsel Ignatius Chongwe asked the court to exercise leniency as they were first offenders.