Five members of Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) pleaded not guilty to public violence when they appeared in a Bulawayo Court Wednesday.
The five, whose court trial begun today were arrested on charges of participating in a gathering with intent to promote public violence.
Partrone Xaba (43), Akim Ndebele (32), Prince Ncube (28), Ndabezinhle Ncube (38) and Mongameli Mlotshwa (38) denied they had intent to cause chaos when the appeared before Bulawayo magistrate, Adelaide Mbeure.
The five entered the “not guilty plea ” through their lawyer, Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi-Ncube law chambers.
However, the magistrate postponed the matter to September 6, 2019 for continuation of trial.
State prosecutor, Concilia Mathaba had told the court that on August 28 the five MRP members were gathered outside the Bulawayo High Court where Chief Ndiweni’s bail hearing was in progress.
She alleged that 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.
Mathaba 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 also 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 testified that their 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 dismissed their lawyer’s claim that the arrest was malicious, citing that as police officers they professionally and transparently carried out duties.
During cross examination, Moyo 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, the did not in any way disturb the proceedings that were taking place inside.