By Tendai Rupapa
The investigating officer in the case in which one of the MDC-Alliance principals, Tendai Biti, is facing charges of inciting violence yesterday maintained that the opposition figure played hide and seek with the police, in the full knowledge that he was wanted for questioning.
Chief Superintendent Jealous Nyabasa said Biti and his lawyers deceived the police by saying he was going to surrender himself, but never did, only to be spotted at Chirundu Border Post.
Biti, who is also facing charges of contravening the Electoral Act, is challenging the jurisdiction of the court in his case, arguing that he was “abducted” by the Zimbabwean authorities who returned him to Zimbabwe.
Through his lawyers – Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, Messrs Alec Muchadehama and Harrison Nkomo – Biti wants the court to determine whether his arrest and appearance in court were proper given the circumstances of his case.
On Wednesday, Chief Supt Nyabasa in his evidence-in-chief said Biti was lawfully arrested in Zimbabwe last week following his deportation by the Zambian authorities after he was denied asylum.
Chief Supt Nyabasa maintained that Biti was running away from the law enforcement agencies. While cross-examining Chief Supt Nyabasa, Ms Mtetwa said Biti’s lawyers made several efforts to engage the police on the matter to no avail. Chief Supt Nyabasa dismissed Ms Mtetwa’s assertion.
“Police through its chief spokesperson Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba communicated the desire to interview the accused person,” he said.
“The communication was done through print and electronic media.
“The accused was supposed to report at his nearest police station. He did not heed police’s call, instead he chose to send his lawyers to CID Law and Order to check if he was really wanted. They made an undertaking that they were going to bring him, but never did.
Biti is alleged to have unlawfully declared opposition leader Mr Nelson Chamisa as the winner in the Presidential election held on July 30, thereby violating Section 66 A(1) of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13, which prohibits the unofficial or false declaration of election results.
Commenting on the charge, Ms Mtetwa said Section 66A(3) of the same Act allowed reporting derived from polling station-based returns by political parties.
On Wednesday, Chief Supt Nyabasa said when Biti was denied asylum by the Zambian government, he was then handed over to the Zimbabwean immigration officials, who in turn surrendered him to the police.
The matter continues today.