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Drama in MLF case

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The State case in the treason trial of Mthwakazi Liberation Front (MLF) leaders Paul Siwela and Charles Thomas as well as former activist John Gazi plunged into further turmoil yesterday after the police officer investigating the matter contradicted his earlier testimony.

Alex Chidhakwa of Entumbane Police Station in Bulawayo, who arrested Thomas at Entumbane Complex on the day the flyers were allegedly distributed on March 3 last year, gave evidence contrary to what he said at the Magistrates’ Court during the MLF trio’s bail application.

This prompted the defence team led by Advocate Lucas Nkomo to accuse him of lying under oath.

Siwela, Thomas and Gazi are facing charges of allegedly trying to topple the government of President Robert Mugabe by distributing flyers inciting the public to revolt against the State.

On Monday, two key witnesses, Headman Sibanda and Sibangani Ndlovu, disowned statements they were alleged to have made to the police.

In his evidence before High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou sitting with assessors Fanuel Damba and Elliot Nyoni, Chidhakwa said he saw Thomas distributing the flyers and gave chase with other police officers.

He said when they arrived at the shopping complex they were in police uniform and when he arrested Thomas he recovered six flyers and five calendars from the MLF leader.

However, when he was reminded by Nkomo that what he was saying was not true and was not what he told the Magistrates’ Court earlier, Chidhakwa insisted that was what he had said.

Nkomo had to read to Chidhakwa his evidence from the original record at the Magistrates’ Court which was contrary to what he was saying in the High Court.

“At the flea market stand we saw accused one (Thomas) distributing some small pieces of paper to members of the public.

“We then wanted to find out what it was and we called him. When he realised that we were police officers, he ran away and used the other gate.

“Since I was in civilian clothes, I followed him and ran for about 200-300 metres and got to a road when he realised that we were closing in on him and stopped.

“We apprehended him and searched him and found him with three flyers and a calendar,” he said under oath then.

Chidhakwa also contradicted himself on the number of flyers he allegedly saw, and also disowned the force number on the statement he allegedly signed, saying it was not his.

“So when you told the court that there were three flyers and one calendar, you were deliberately lying under oath? You are being evasive because you are lying under oath,” Nkomo said.

Under cross-examination by Sabelo Sibanda, who is representing Gazi, Chidhakwa agreed that from most of the flyers he saw, some of the messages were not inciting anyone.

Another State witness, Edmond Magama, who was with Chidhakwa, differed with his colleague on the number of flyers they handed over to their bosses. He, however, corroborated on how Thomas was arrested.

The trial will continue today when Samuel Pedzisai will continue leading evidence from Magama. Siwela, Thomas and Gazi have pleaded not guilty to treason or alternatively subverting a constitutional government.

Advocate Lucas Nkomo, instructed by Sindiso Mazibisa and Robert Ndlovu, represents Siwela and Thomas, while Lovack Masuku and Pedzisai represent the State.

Eleven witnesses are lined up to testify including the Bulawayo police commander for the Law and Order section, Superintendent Andrew Mupungu, who is the investigating officer.

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