Five MRP members acquitted

…magistrate says police narration without evidence is insufficient.

A Bulawayo magistrate, Friday, acquitted five members of Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) who were arrested for public violence outside the High Court.

The five were arrested during a bail hearing for Ntabazinduna Chief Ndiweni.

Magistrate Adelaide Mbeure, freed the five citing the state had failed to present a sufficient case against them.

Partrone Xaba (43), Akim Ndebele (32), Prince Ncube (28), Ndabezinhle Ncube (38) and Mongameli Mlotshwa (38) maintained a plea of not guilty throughout their trial.

In giving her ruling, Magistrate Mbeure said the state alleged that the accused persons were caught on camera but when witnesses came to testify, no evidence in form of photographs or videos was brought to the court.

She added that the state witnesses even admitted before the same court that the accused persons conduct did not in any way disturb the proceedings taking place in the High Court.

“The State also did not bring in any member of the public to a test that they were affected by the conduct of the accused persons. Police narration on its own without evidence is not sufficient to substantiate the evidence. The court has no evidence to work with,” Mbeure said.

The lawyer of five, Dumisani Dune of Mathonsi-Ncube Law Chambers, previously chided the state for failing to tender evidence in form of placards, photographs or videos it alleged to have captured on the day of their arrest.

One police officer who had been deployed outside the Bulawayo High Court, Tafadzwa Chaponda, who testified as an expert witness, claimed he had left the evidence on a computer at his office on the day he came to court.

According to the state’s case, the MRP five had intent to cause chaos on August 28, 2019 outside the Bulawayo High Court where Chief Ndiweni’s bail hearing was in progress.

The state alleged they started singing anti-tribal songs in Ndebele vernacular while waving placards written “Free Ndiweni, Ndiweni’s life is in danger, We want justice, No to tribalism, Hands off our Chief…. ” among other litanies.

Concillia Mathaba, prosecutor, said the accused people were caught on camera by police photographers from the Criminal Investigation Department who had been deployed on the ground.

In their defense, the MRP members cited their conduct did not in any way affect the proceedings of the court case nor did they disturb members of the public who were going about with their business.

The MRP five said they were simply exercising their right to expression alongside the dictates of their Ndebele culture and tradition by reciting praises to honour Chief Ndiweni.

Their lawyer told the court that the allegations against them were malicious, whose aim was to victimise MRP members for standing in solidarity with the Chief.

Sibusiso Moyo, a Detective, Assistant Inspector from the Law and Order Department who testified earlier before the same court that testified that the singing and dancing allegedly disturbed the peace of passers-by.

Moyo said the accused persons were deterred from causing further nuisance because of the heavy deployment of uniformed forces.

He, however, conceded that roads leading to the High Court were blocked so no vehicles passed through besides the few pedestrians using the road.

The detective also admitted that although the accused persons were singing and dancing outside the High Court, they did not in any way disturb the proceedings that were taking place inside.

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