A WOMAN from Magwegwe West suburb in Bulawayo has been set free after spending three weeks in custody on allegations of stealing $5 worth of Mackerel fish during the January 14 protests.
A court heard Sihle Ngwenya (36) was arrested at her house by police conducting door to door searches looking for looted goods.
Through her lawyer from the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, Ngwenya pleaded not guilty to a charge of possessing stolen goods.
Western Commonage magistrate Stephen Ndlovu said the state had failed to give compelling evidence linking Ngwenya to the charges laid against her.
State representative Tony Kamudyariwa said Ngwenya was found cooking Mackerel fish at her house and upon searching the house, police found more Mackerel fish in her fridge which she could not account for.
“Ngwenya could not account for the fish that she was found cooking and those that were found in her refrigerator. She also tried to evade police from getting into her house when they were carrying out their search. She failed to give a satisfactory explanation about her actions,” said Kamudyariwa.
Ngwenya’s lawyer made an application that Ngwenya’s case is placed off remand as there was no evidence that the fish found in her possession had been looted.
“I make an application for refusal of further remand. The state cannot seek to place the accused person on remand for mere mackerel fish. The outline refers to the looting that occurred yet she was found cooking mackerel fish in her house. There is no reasonable suspicion that she committed the offense or any other offense,” submitted the lawyer.
Kamudyariwa withdrew charges levelled against Ngwenya citing lack of evidence.
“While it is not the right time for the application, we, however, admit that accused was arrested in a dragnet. We have now separated the cases and this should have been done at the initial remand. The court and the defense are aware of what is happening. We concede that there is no reasonable suspicion that the accused committed the offense. We, therefore, withdraw charges against the accused person,” the state submitted.