Wednesday, 3 March 2021

CONVICTED GUSHUNGO HOLDINGS BOMBER GETS BAIL

THE High Court has granted $5 000 bail pending appeal to the leader of Zimbabwe People’s Front Party, Owen Kuchata, who was convicted for insurgency, sabotage, banditry, or terrorism in 2016 after trying to bomb the late former President Robert Mugabe’s Alpha Omega Dairy plant in Mazowe.

Kuchata, who had already served more than half of his term, appeared before Justice Tawanda Chitapi for bail pending appeal. He was convicted after pleading guilty to the charge.

Justice Chitapi said Kuchata was no longer a threat to State security as the State did not give evidence that he was likely to abscond if released.

“I consider that the applicant has established exceptional circumstances which warrant that in the interests of justice, he be granted bail as there is really little to differentiate him from the co-accused save that he served time for the offence for which he was convicted. This does not disqualify him as a suitable candidate for admission to bail,” Justice Chitapi said.

In granting him bail, Justice Chitapi ordered Kuchata to deposit $5 000 with the clerk of court, continue residing at his given address, report once a week on Fridays and not to interfere with witnesses.

During the initial court appearance, Kuchata was charged together with Solomon Makumbe, Silas Pfupa and Borman Ngwenya, who were members of the Zimbabwe National Army and were all acquitted.

Ngwenya was a Zimbabwe National Army corporal, while Makumbe and Pfupa were intelligence officers.

It was alleged that the four underwent militia training in Mapinga, where they hatched a plan to commit terror acts. They were ambushed following a tip-off, leading to their arrest while on their way to the dairy farm.

Kuchata pleaded guilty on his initial court appearance, but altered his plea due to changed circumstances two years ago. He sought rescission of magistrate Hosea Mujaya’s ruling.

He complained that he was not advised of his rights when he first appeared in court, hence he pleaded to avoid torture.

“When I was in court, the man who had brutally assaulted me and instructed me that when I go to court, I should admit to such charges, was sitting in the gallery. I believe that man was a State agent since he was part of the officers who had heavily beaten and tortured me. The magistrate even saw him and his actions when I was in the dock, and got to the extent of asking him if he was a member of the Press,” Kuchata said in his application for rescission.

The High Court later visited the record of proceedings regarding this issue.

Meanwhile, suspended National Pharmaceuticals of Zimbabwe acting managing director Zealous Nyabadza, who was arrested for criminal abuse of office after he ordered surgical masks to avert a strike by doctors and nurses, was yesterday granted $15 000 bail by a Harare magistrate.

Newsday

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