(Last Updated on February 28, 2013 by Editor)
ZIMBABWE – BUSINESSMAN Temba Mliswa and his seven alleged accomplices’ bid for freedom was dealt a blow yesterday when Chinhoyi magistrate Mr Felix Mawadze denied them bail on grounds of political volatility.
Mr Mawadze ruled after cross examination of all the accused persons that the situation in the Zimonja area of Zvipani, Hurungwe West constituency was still volatile and releasing them on bail could trigger unrest.
“From the evidence led during the whole bail application, it was clear that Mr Mliswa has considerable influence in the area while Member of Parliament Sarah Mahoka also comes from the same area.
“The dust has not settled as there are said to be political factions in the area. So bail is denied,” he said.He however, dismissed the other grounds proffered by the State to deny Mliswa (41), Goodwell Zinyama (49), Simbarashe Mamina (30), Christopher Munakira (35), Munyaradzi Mutami (33), Judge Mukwava (34), January Mapfundematsva (37) and Matilda Makwanya (33) bail.
The state had indicated that the eight could abscond owing to the gravity of the charges and the sentence they would face if convicted.
Mliswa and his accomplices face being fined or being jailed for up to 10 years. After ruling, the defence lawyers Mr Musindo Hungwe, Mr Ray Tsvakwi and Mr Mike Mutsvairo immediately applied that the matter go for trial.
They argued that the State had brought a docket which implied that they had concluded their investigations. “Your worship we have one small application to make before the court rises which is that the trial be moved to today (yesterday) in the interest of the constitutionally enshrined right of the accused to freedom.
“Bringing a docket means there is sufficient evidence gathered to go for trial,” he said. The defence argued that the witnesses including Sarah Mahoka who is alleged to have been assaulted on February 22 at Zimonja business centre were in attendance.
Mr Hungwe said the defence was invoking the accused people’s right to a trial arguing that there was no prejudice to the state if the application is granted.
However, Mr Mawadze said there was need to align the court roll as the matter needs a continuous run until the trial is concluded.
His position was also supported by prosecutor Mrs Barbara Mabika who said the matter was just like any other that the court was dealing with and so should not be given special treat-ment.
The State had suggested that the trial starts on March 6 but the defence maintained that the right of the accused to liberty should be protected before the matter was taken to the chambers for determination.
All parties finally settled for Monday for trial.