Villagers in Mudzi district, Mashonaland East province, on Monday claimed they were being coerced to contribute $1 each towards raising legal fees for the six Zanu PF activists who were arrested in May for allegedly murdering MDC-T activist Cephas Magura.
The villagers, some of them MDC-T supporters, said Zanu PF activists in the area were “making door-to-door rounds” demanding up to $1 from each villager.
Mudzi North MDC-T spokesperson Taurai Kakore said: “So far, they have collected money from Nyamhondoro, Chimukoko, Nyamapanda, Gananga ward B and Katena where people are being forced to pay the money. They are demanding between 50c and $1 for the legal fees of their activists.”
MDC-T youth assembly spokesperson Clifford Hlatshwayo yesterday added: “We are totally against that. We know they have been doing this and continue to do it even on national holidays like Heroes Day and Independence Day, among others, in different areas.”
Mudzi North MP Newton Kachepa (Zanu PF) also confirmed receiving complaints from villagers, but said the claims were unsubstantiated.
“I have been asked by many people on that but there is no evidence of that. I have been asked that several times by people including you but there is no evidence so I can’t say exactly what is happening on the ground as most of the time I will be here in Harare and then to my farm,” Kachepa said.
Kachepa also admitted that he had not personally paid for the party activists’ legal costs, leaving their families to foot the bills.
“To be honest with you, I have not done anything to help because I don’t have money,” he said.
The suspects, who include Zanu PF councillor David Chimukoko (45), Graciano Kazingizi (33), Biggie Office (30), Raphael Bobo (31), Perkins Karikoga (27) and Phillip Katsande (59), have been languishing in remand prison since their arrest in May over the alleged murder of Magura.
One of the suspects, Eric Chatiza (44), died in prison last week after a short illness.