MLF pair released on bail

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Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou on Thursday upheld an earlier bail ruling on two of the detained Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) leaders facing treason charges.

The two, John Gazi and Charles Thomas, were immediately released on $2 000 bail but Paul Siwela was not so lucky after the state was given the green light to appeal against his granting of bail at the Supreme Court.

“Accordingly, leave of appeal is refused against first (Thomas) and second (Gazi) respondents and granted on the third respondent (Siwela),” ruled Ndou in a judgment read on his behalf by Justice Nicholas Mathonsi.

This means Siwela will remain in custody until a Supreme Court determination of his bail status.

Ndou last week granted the trio $2 000 bail each but the state immediately invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to appeal against the ruling.

Chief law officer Martha Cheda had argued by granting the three bail, the court had not conceded to the state’s fears the three were likely to pursue their agenda of removing the government through unconstitutional means.

“The fear is founded on the premise that thousands of flyers are said to be awaiting distribution by the security department of Mthwakakazi Liberation Front. These flyers have not been recovered by the police and that the respondents once released on bail, are likely to cause them to be distributed to the public, and therefore continue to pursue their agenda of removing the government through unconstitutional means,” submitted Cheda.

She also said Siwela had a pending case of a similar nature for contravening the Public Order and Security Act.

Cheda said: “Regional Court CRB No 71-2/04 and High Court Bulawayo No 3373/04 wherein he circulated the ‘14-page document’ wherein he was advocating for the creation of the ‘province of Matabeleland’ by the Ndebele-speaking people fighting with spears and arrows against the government and the Shona-speaking people. That it is not in the interest of justice and the state security to admit them to bail.”

However, lawyers for the three, Sindiso Mazibisa, Robert Ndlovu, Matshobana Ncube and Advocate Lucas Nkomo shot down Cheda’s assertions and said the ground for seeking leave to appeal was devoid of merit and there were no reasonable prospects of success on appeal.

“The respondents have no agenda removing the government through unconstitutional means. The applicant has not proffered any scintilla of evidence to show existence of such agenda. In the absence of facts pointing to the existence of such agenda then the applicant’s allegation and fear must be dismissed as baseless and conjectural,” submitted Nkomo.

Nkomo said the trio could not distribute flyers whose whereabouts was not known.

He said the state had so far failed to show any connection between the alleged flyers and any agenda of removing the government through unconstitutional means.