'Chief' chiadzwa appeals jail term

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Lawyers representing Newman Chiadzwa, sentenced to five years in jail with hard labour and a fine of $132 764, have lodged an appeal at the High Court saying the sentence passed by a Mutare provincial magistrate was “disturbing”.

The lawyers say they are disturbed by the sentence and it should be reversed. The appeal papers were filed in Harare yesterday.

His lawyer, Chris Ndlovu, of Mutare-based law firm Gonese and Ndlovu Legal Practitioners also applied for bail pending appeal and the application will be heard on Friday at the Mutare Magistrates’ Courts.

Chiadzwa was found guilty of unlawful possession of 8, 6 kg of diamonds worth $30 million.

Ndlovu said: “We are dissatisfied with the conviction and we are disturbed by the sentenced imposed on the accused person. We are more than 100% confident that the appeal will be successful.”

Chiadzwa’s wife and relatives wept when the sentence was read out by magistrate Billiard Musakwa on Wednesday.

He was given up to June 30 to pay the fine or risk having his property attached in terms of Section 348 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

He rose to prominence after he volunteered damning evidence to a delegation from the Kimberly Processing Certification Scheme, on human rights violations at the Chiadzwa diamond field.

He led the delegation to what he said was a mass grave containing bodies of illegal miners and dealers allegedly shot by security forces during an operation to rid clear the area.

He also courted controversy after he was accused by the government of masquerading as “Chief Chiadzwa”. He later confessed to not being the real chief and apologised.

His lawyer had argued in court that he kept the diamonds, which were found in his possession, on behalf of the community.

The lawyer said the diamonds were extracted during the period when the government had encouraged villagers to freely mine the precious stones and sell them to the Mineral Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ). But this failed to convince the court.

In passing sentence Musakwa took into consideration Chiadzwa’s previous convictions, which date back to 1971, and the quantity of diamonds involved.

“No such amount of diamonds has been recovered from an individual across the whole country,” the magistrate said.

The court produced a detailed criminal record dating to June 1971 when Chiadzwa was still 15.

He has 12 previous convictions, ranging from hawking to illegal possession of diamonds and gold.