Thursday, 16 August 2018

BITI WAS LAWFULLY ARRESTED

MDC-Alliance principal Tendai Biti was lawfully arrested in Zimbabwe last week following his deportation by Zambian authorities, the court heard yesterday.

Biti, who is facing charges of inciting violence and contravening the Electoral Act, is challenging the jurisdiction of the court to hear his matter arguing that he was abducted by Zimbabwean authorities.

Through his lawyers — Ms Beatrice Mtetwa, Messrs Alec Muchadehama, Harrison Nkomo and Gift Mtisi— Biti wants the court to determine whether his appearance in court was proper given the circumstances of his case.

Biti, who was denied asylum by the Zambian government after he tried to seek refuge in that country, also wants the court to determine whether the police complied with the law after he argued that he was unlawfully arrested in Zambia by unidentified Zimbabwean men.

The investigating officer in the matter Chief Superintendent Jealous Nyabasa yesterday took to the witness stand and gave his evidence-in-chief led by prosecutor Mr Michael Reza.

He chronicled events that led to Biti’s arrest adding that he lawfully arrested Biti on Zimbabwean soil dismissing his claims that he was arrested on the Zambian side.

The investigating officer said when Biti was denied asylum by the Zambian government, he was then handed over to the Zimbabwean immigration officials who in turn surrendered him to the police.

“Your Worship I arrested the accused person at Chirundu border post on August 9 after he was handed over by officials from Zimbabwean Immigration offices. They had a deportation order and handover a certificate from Zambian authorities,” he said.
“The accused is a Zimbabwean citizen who was lawfully arrested in Zimbabwe at Chirundu border post and lawfully brought to court within the stipulated time frame. Therefore, given the circumstances he is properly before the court.”

Chief Supt Nyabasa said Biti was on an outstanding warrant of arrest and he knew that he was wanted by the police but chose not to surrender himself.

After he was asked by the prosecutor what Biti was supposed to do after receiving a message that the police was looking for him, Chief Supt Nyabasa in response said he was supposed to report to his nearest police station.

“Biti did not heed police’s call instead he chose to send his lawyers to CID Law and Order to check if he was really wanted. They made an undertaking that they were going to bring him but never did,” he said.

In his evidence-in-chief last week, Biti said: “When Charity Charamba (Senior Assistant Commissioner) told journalists that they were looking for me, my lawyer Alec Muchadehama went to CID law and order intending to advise them that I was to surrender myself on that day at 2pm.

“The police officers he met there said they were not aware that he was wanted and he was told to leave his business card so they would contact him if they wanted me.”

However, Chief Supt Nyabasa dismissed his claims and told the court that Biti actually sent three different lawyers on separate occasions who all made an undertaking to accompany their client to the police but never fulfilled their promises.

Biti is alleged to have unlawfully declared opposition party leader Mr Nelson Chamisa as the winner in the Presidential elections thereby violating Section 66A (1) of the Electoral Act Chapter 2:13, which prohibits the unofficial or false declaration of election results.

Commenting on the charge, Chief Supt Nyabasa said In terms of the country’s electoral laws, only the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is empowered to declare the winner of an election.
Magistrate Mr Francis Mapfumo rolled over the matter to today for continuation when the defence is expected to cross-examine Chief Supt Nyabasa. Herald

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