NATIONAL Vendors Union leader Sten Zvorwadza Tuesday denied ever threatening to burn a top Harare hotel saying the police pounced on him while he was enjoying his breakfast.
Zvorwadza got into trouble after he went to Rainbow Towers demonstrating against vice president Phelekezela Mphoko’s prolonged stay at the hotel at tax payers’ expense.
Through his lawyer, Marufu Mandevere, Zvorwadza said he never uttered that he would mobilise his followers to burn down the hotel.
“On June 26, the accused went to the hotel in company of his friend Tendai Kagodora to have some breakfast. He will further state that he ordered some juice and whilst they were still waiting for the juice he was surprised to be surrounded by police officers who started grabbing and pulling him off the table,” said the lawyer.
However, Douglas Dembetembe who works at the hotel’s reception area said Zvorwadza conducted himself violently, adding that he indeed threatened to burn down the hotel if Mphoko continued to stay there.
“He conducted himself in a violent manner prompting us to call the police. He resisted police officers and closed the entrance before he confronted hotel staff demanding to see the management,” he said.
Dembetembe was, however, at pains giving his evidence and only said Zvorwadza threatened to burn the hotel after he was frequently asked by Mandevere under cross examination.
The hotel’s general manager, Trythings Mutyandasvika, also testified and said Zvorwadza indeed said he wanted to burn the hotel.
“He said the words in Shona putting us on fear. Even my guests who witnessed the commotion were disturbed and I had to explain and assure them that they were safe and the police would protect them,” he said.
“He said if the hotel management failed to evict the vice president he was going to mobilise his people and burn down the hotel. He went on to give us an ultimatum,” he said.
The State alleges that Zvorwadza was in the company of three suspected journalists and four other accomplices who are still at large.
The court heard that they were in possession of video cameras when Zvorwadza took a seat in the foyer and began shouting that he wanted to have breakfast before he became violent and threatened to burn the hotel.
Hotel management informed the police about Zvorwadza’s conduct before he was ordered to leave the hotel.