Former Bulawayo Deputy Mayor Tinashe Kambarami and ward 4 councillor Silas Chigora who were facing allegations of damaging city council property during a scuffle with Town Clerk Christopher Dube in August were acquitted on Tuesday.
The pair were accused of damaging a French door, five French door panes and a lever lock at the council chambers.
A court heard the two went ahead to hold a special council’s meeting despite having been warned against it due to the looming violence that awaited outside the council chambers.
Prosecutor Nathan Marime said “Whilst fully aware and realising that harm to persons or property might occur, the accused persons through recklessness and defiance ignored the prevailing volatile situation and went ahead with their illegitimate plans against the Mayor’s superior authority thereby creating a dangerous situation. They failed to display care in the avoiding infliction of harm to property which was foreseeable.”
Four witnesses (two from the City Council and two police officers) who were called by the State to bear testimonies told the court they saw neither Kambarami nor Chigora commit the alleged offence but they were all called at various intervals where they saw the damage that had occurred.
Marime submitted that the State felt it had failed to counter-evidence led by Kambarami and Chigora and he pleaded with the court to exercise its discretion to rule on the matter.
Bulawayo magistrate Shephered Mjanja dismissed the pair at the close of the State case.
“According to the law, the court can discharge accused persons if there is no compelling evidence. None of the witnesses saw what happened. In the court of law, we do not play by the politics of the day. This court thus finds the accused persons not guilty and acquitted,” said magistrate Mjanja.
Kambarami in his evidence narrated to the court that when they arrived at the City Hall for the meeting there were already a group of people crowded outside inciting violence.
He said they called council security and members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) who were present to control the situation but the crowds somehow found their way into the council premises.
“We were about 15 councillors in total and we had parked our cars close to Greens Supermarket. We met a police officer and other council security with whom we had a short meeting in regards to the security threat and weapons the mob were carrying. After that briefing I communicated that I was supposed to go through with the meeting in the chambers and security should ensure that no one would come through,” said Kambarami.
“A short while after the briefing, the mob that was outside got information that we were about to start the meeting. We heard noises of people shouting and making noise and insulting. Everyone was scattered everywhere in panic. I ran upstairs where there is a glass door and because of chaos that was there I was attacked through the glass door and that was where I cut my fingers and was injured for almost a month.”
Cllr Chigora said members of the Mthwakazi Republic Party were also part of the raging crowd that was armed with machetes and knobkerries and in pursuit of ‘Shona speaking councillors’.
He said they found refuge at a toilet in the mayor’s box.
“There was smashing of glasses and banging of doors everywhere. I went to the first floor and hid in the toilet with Kambarami. ZRP police then came later and we were escorted to central police where we made a report. I did not break any panes nor doors. These people who were chasing us I suspect were the ones who were responsible as they intended to eliminate us,” said Chigora.
In August this year, Kambarami and Chigora were acquitted of assaulting the Town Clerk Christopher Dube while serving him with a suspension letter over abuse of office allegations.