By Mary Taruvinga
High Court judge, Tawanda Chitapi Tuesday granted $5 000 bail to Owen Kuchata, leader of Zimbabwe People’s Front Party (ZPFP) who was jailed for attempt to bomb former President Robert Mugabe and family’s Alpha Omega Dairy plant in Mazowe.
Kuchata applied for bail pending appeal after serving over half of his nine-year jail term.
He was convicted on his own guilty plea for charges of insurgency, sabotage, banditry, or terrorism back in 2016.
In granting Kuchata bail, the judge ruled that he was no longer a threat to state security adding that the state did not give any evidence that he is likely to abscond if released.
Ruled the judge, “Since the applicant has served the sentence, he stands in the same position as the others.
“I consider that the applicant has established exceptional circumstances which warrant that in the interests of justice, he be granted bail as there is really little to differentiate him from the co-accused save that he served time for the off nice for which he was convicted.
“This does not disqualify him as a suitable candidate for admission to bail.”
On top of $5 000 bail, Kuchata was also ordered to continue residing in his Southerton home in Harare, report once every Friday and not to interfere with witnesses.
Kuchata had been jointly charged with Solomon Makumbe, Silas Pfupa and Borman Ngwenya who were all acquitted.
Ngwenya was a Zimbabwe National Army corporal while Makumbe and Pfupa were intelligence officers.
It is state’s case that when the four were arrested, it was discovered that they went through military training in Mapinga where they planned to commit acts of terror.
They were later ambushed following a tip-off which led to their arrest while on their way to the dairy farm.
Kuchata pleaded guilty on his initial court appearance but changed his mind about two years ago and sought recession of magistrate Hosea Mujaya’s ruling.
He complained that he was not advised of his rights when he first appeared in court hence ended up pleading to avoid torture.
“When I was in court, the man who had brutally assaulted me and instructed me that when I get in court, I should admit to such charges was sitting in the gallery.
“I believe that man was a state agent since he was part of the officers who had heavily beaten and tortured me.
“The magistrates even saw him and his actions when I was in the dock and to some extent asked him if he was a member of the press.”
Kuchata persuaded the High Court to visit a record of proceedings regarding this issue.