IN what appeared to be a case of mistaken identity, a How Mine Football Club and national Under-23 player was on Monday arrested after two men identified him to the police as a pick pocket who had stolen a cellphone from one of them.
While waiting for their team bus to ferry them to How Mine for a training session, the players are said to have been gathered in groups at the Bulawayo Small City Hall parking lot when two men appeared in the company of police officers and identified defender Praise Tonha (ABOVE) as the culprit who had stolen a cellphone.
Despite several statements from his teammates vindicating Tonha from the alleged crime, one of the accusers was adamant the player was indeed the “thief”.
The player also vehemently denied stealing the cellphone but the police would have none of it.
“His teammates tried to explain to the police officers that they had been with Praise the whole time and he could not have stolen the cellphone. Some of the players share accommodation with Praise and they are in a position to account for his activities. One of the men even appeared to doubt his friend’s version of the story but the police still proceeded to arrest the player,” a source told B-Metro Sport.
The defender was detained at the Bulawayo Central Police Station for about two hours and later released without a charge.
How Mine chairman Mark Paul Andrews said the club is fully behind the player despite the unclear theft allegations.
“No cell phone was found on the player and as a club we are fully behind the boy because we believe it was a case of mistaken identity. Police have indicated that investigations are on going and we want them to get to the bottom of the issue,” said Andrews.
The How Mine boss appeared not pleased with manner in which the police handled the issue.
“We would have expected the police to be diligent in their investigations before detaining the player, get the facts right from the complaint, the accused and witnesses. All the same we will await their investigations,” he said.
Tonha joined How Mine for the 2016 Premier Soccer League season from Triangle FC together with coach Kelvin Kaindu. Bulawayo police spokesperson inspector Precious Simango had not returned B Metro inquiries about the case at the time of going for print.