Sunday, 18 August 2019

NO POLITICS IN CHIEF NDIWENI CONVICTION : GOVT


THE Government yesterday rubbished claims by some opposition activists and anti-government pressure groups, that there was a political hand in the criminal case of Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni who is serving a jail term for malicious damage to property.

Chief Ndiweni (54) was on Friday last week sentenced to an effective 18 months in jail while his 23 subjects escaped custodial sentence after they were ordered to perform 525 hours of community service for destroying a local villager, Mr Fetti Mbele’s property in Ntabazinduna.

They were convicted by Bulawayo magistrate, Ms Gladmore Mushove.  In an interview, the Permanent Secretary for Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Mr Nick Mangwana said there was nothing political about Chief Ndiweni’s conviction.

He said the doctrine of the rule of law applies to everyone regardless of their social standing.

“There is absolutely nothing political about a community leader who goes on to maliciously destroy someone’s property simply because that person has refused to divorce his wife. The doctrine of the rule of law implies that no institution, including customary and traditional, is above the law, and should be allowed to act outside the ambit of the law,” he said.

Mr Mangwana said Chief Ndiweni had no right whatsoever to abuse his authority as a chief by acting in the manner he did.

“Chief Felix Ndiweni should not be allowed to abuse fellow citizens like Mr Mbele and his family just because he is a chief. He is not above the law and there is nothing political about the principle that when you commit the crime, you should do the time,” he said.

“In South Africa, AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Zwelibanzi Dalindyebo is in prison as well for abusing his traditional position and this is how the law works.”

Mr Mangwana said the real victims were Mr Mbele and his wife whose property was razed by Chief Ndiweni and his mob.

He also queried why groups that advocate for women’s rights were quiet about the issue affecting one of them.

Mr Mbele was in July 2017 banished from the village by the chief after his wife Ms Nonkangelo Mpengesi was allegedly caught having sex with another villager.

Chief Ndiweni ruled that Mr Mbele and his “adulterous” wife should be banished from Sifelani village, saying “prostitution” will not be tolerated in his area before ordering his subjects to destroy and burn the couple’s homestead. 

The chief’s ruling, in his traditional court, emanated from Mr Mbele’s refusal to divorce his wife.

On July 26 in 2017 at around 4PM, Mr Mbele and his wife arrived from Bulawayo to find some villagers standing outside their homestead.

Kimpton Sibanda (72), a village head and two other villagers, claimed they had been ordered by Chief Ndiweni to destroy Mr Mbele’s garden fence and kraal.

Sibanda instructed the villagers to destroy the fence and kraal. Chief Ndiweni arrived later and ordered the villagers to continue destroying Mr Mbele’s fence and kraal.

The order followed Mr Mbele’s defiance of Chief Ndiweni’s verdict to divorce his wife.

Chief Ndiweni had given a ruling that Mr Mbele’s wife should vacate her husband’s home, but she did not comply with the order since they had resolved the matter as a couple, prompting the chief to order the destruction of his fence and kraal.

During the trial, a number of witnesses testified, including Zanu-PF secretary for administration, Cde Obert Mpofu.

Cde Mpofu’s involvement in the case came following Chief Ndiweni’s testimony in court last year during which he claimed the allegations emanated from Cde Mpofu’s efforts to “fix” him  after he had filed criminal charges against the politician. 

He alleged that Cde Mpofu stole 200 head of cattle from his late father, Chief Khayisa Ndiweni. Chief Ndiweni said he had reported the stock theft case at Mbembesi Police Station, but Cde Mpofu allegedly used his influence as then Home Affairs Minister to make the docket disappear.

Chief Ndiweni further claimed that politics was at play in the matter and accused Cde Mpofu of influencing Mr Mbele, his wife and members of Zanu-PF to interfere with his traditional court order.

Soon after Chief Ndiweni’s sentence, the social media was overflowing with anti-government activists claiming the Government had a hand in the matter. Some even alleged that the chief was being “persecuted” on tribal grounds. Chronicle

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