Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
Four men, including jailed Zimbabwe People’s Front president Owen Kuchata, suspected of plotting to bomb the First Family’s dairy farm in Mazowe, yesterday made a second application for their freedom. Kuchata, Borman Ngwenya, a soldier attached to military intelligence, Solomon Makumbe (29), a Zimbabwe National Army corporal; and Silas Pfupa (37), an ex-soldier – are pushing for refusal of further remand.
They are facing treason charges and have been on remand since January 2016.
Prosecutor Mr Sebastian Mutizirwa applied for postponement of the matter because the State was not able to indict the quartet for trial at the High Court in its first term.
“I received a document from the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA), particularly from Mr Chris Mutangadura indicating that the accused will be indicted in the second term of the High Court,” Mr Mutizirwa said.
“The accused have another case which Makumbe and Pfupa referred to the Constitutional Court. Some of the facts that form the charge of possession of weaponry for sabotage are also part of this case. We await the Concourt determination.”
In March last year, Makumbe and Pfupa applied for referral of their matter to the Concourt after the State reinstated the charges of possession of weaponry for sabotage, which had been earlier withdrawn before plea on the instructions of suspended Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana.
Through their lawyers, the trio told the court that they were ready to proceed with oral submissions for their application, but the State has introduced new and different issues.
Makumbe and Pfupa were represented by Mrs Gamuchira Dzitiro, Ngwenya was represented by Mr Exactly Mangezi, while Kuchata was a self actor.
They said: “We were ready with oral submission for the application of refusal of further remand, but the State has introduced totally different issues. We will file our application by Friday.”
The State undertook to respond by March 27 and Ms Chimboza will make a ruling on March 30.
Kuchata is serving nine years for banditry and money laundering.
The quartet allegedly established a militia training base in Mapinga, Mashonaland West province, where they planned to commit terror acts, sabotage and banditry.
Mr Mutizirwa alleged that on January 1, this year, they allegedly proceeded to President Mugabe’s rural home in Zvimba where they carried out reconnaissance, identifying suitable vulnerable points to sabotage.
It is alleged the four held several meetings at Queens Hotel in Harare, mapping strategies on how they would strike.
Police received a tip-off that the four were planning to bomb Alpha Omega Dairy’s processing plant and a tuckshop during the night.
Acting on the tip-off, the police proceeded to the farm and laid an ambush about 100 metres from the quartet’s target.
At around 10pm, the detectives saw the men approaching the processing plant and immediately arrested them.
Meanwhile, the 74 protesters who were accused of torching vending stalls at Copacabana bus terminus in Harare, before looting shops and attacking the police in August last year, were yesterday acquitted due to lack of evidence.
The group, which includes Petros Sokole (39) and Paradzayi Manyara (39), was represented by lawyers Messrs Trust Maanda, Jeremiah Bhamu and Harrison Nkomo.
Presiding magistrate Ms Barbara Chimboza granted the group’s application for discharge at the close of the State’s case. In her ruling, Ms Chimboza said the State called four witnesses whose evidence was not reliable and sufficient to cause a conviction.
“The evidence of the first two witnesses did not assist the court in coming up with a determination,” she said.
“The court heard that the accused were arrested using photographs. However, the photos were not produced in court as exhibits neither was the court told what the pictures related to.
“The fourth witness could not identify the accused and no evidence was led pertaining to allegations that police officers were assaulted.”
The group pleaded not guilty and in their defence presented alibis.