State witness grilled in Binga North MP trial

The lawyer representing MDC Alliance Binga North Member of Parliament Prince Dubeko Sibanda who is accused of inciting public violence grilled the state witness during cross-examination on Thursday.

Sibanda is accused of inciting public violence by distributing face masks written #ZanupfMustGo at a Pick ‘n’Pay Hyper in Bulawayo on August 2.

Nqobani Sithole of Ncube Attorneys, told the court that his client did nothing wrong apart from perpetuating a political ideal in which he believes in as per the provisions of his political affiliation. 

Sibanda appeared before Bulawayo Provincial magistrate Tinashe Tashaya and pleaded not guilty to the charge. 

“As an honourable member of Parliament and as a member of the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance the message #ZanupfMustGo is an ideal that I have been consistently perpetuating since 2013. I believe in democratic processes to achieve this ideal,” said Sibanda. 

In his testimony, the state witness, Matthew Mutavayi claimed Sibanda called out to a Pick n Pay male employee from his car to collect a mask written #ZanupfMustGo and the employee showed the mask to his female colleague who also went to ask for hers. 

Mutavayi said Sibanda`s intention was meant to incite the public against the constitutionally elected government. 

“I was in a queue awaiting my turn to have my temperature checked and get sanitised to gain entry into the shop. What irritated me was the employee just discarded his duty and rushed to Sibanda’s car. He did not excuse himself nor explain to us what he was up to. As a citizen who was waiting to get service I felt irritated. I then enquired from the two employees what it is that was exciting them that much which they had gotten from the car. They eagerly showed me their face masks and reiterated that indeed #ZanupfMustGo,” Mutavayi testified. 

“As an honourable member of Parliament, Sibanda should have chosen a different venue to perpetuate his political agenda. He infringed on my rights as a citizen who was awaiting mere service at a shopping centre. Also judging from the political atmosphere in the country at that time, I feared for my life and safety as I felt Sibanda’s conduct would incite violence.”

Sithole dismissed Mutavayi’s testimony, citing that they were baseless marred in malice because of the differing political views with the duo.

During cross examination, Sithole told the court that Mutavayi had a hidden agenda and was misleading the court.

He stated that Mutavayi’s grievances were fanned not by the delay in service from Pick n Pay employees but by the fact that Sibanda and the employees shared a different political belief. 

“This is a display of overzealousness, mostly owing to the fact that you cannot tolerate people with different political beliefs. There was no point at which my client or the employees said they would incite violence. In a democratic country like the Republic of Zimbabwe people have freedom of expression and can choose whichever political party they so wish,” Sithole said. 

Magistrate Tashaya postponed the matter to September 25 for continuation of trial. 

State representative, George Rufumoyo said Sibanda committed the offence on August 2 at Pick’n’Pay Hyper in Bulawayo.

“On August 2, at TM Pick n Pay Hyper, Bulawayo, accused went on to distribute two face masks to two Pick’n’Pay pay employees Marvelous Ndaba and Brian Maunze. The masks were printed the following words #ZANU-PF MUST GO meant to incite public violence and were recovered. The state may produce the recovered face masks as exhibits,” said Rufumoyo.

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