OWEN Kuchata, the president of the little-known opposition Zimbabwe People’s Front party, has been slapped with an 11-year jail term for banditry and money-laundering after being convicted of attempting to petrol-bomb President Robert Mugabe’s dairy plant in Mazowe two weeks ago.
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
Kuchata, 34, was sentenced to nine years for banditry and two years for money-laundering. He will, however, serve nine years after two years were conditionally suspended by Harare regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya.
Initially, Kuchata was jointly charged with military intelligence officers Borman Ngwenya, Solomon Makombe and Silas Pfupa, on insurgency, sabotage, banditry or terrorism and money-laundering charges.
But in a sudden turn of events last Friday, Kuchata pleaded guilty to the charge, prompting the court to try him separately from his three colleagues who are set to appear for routine remand on February 16.
In passing sentence, Mujaya said Kuchata was a daydreamer.
“I am shocked what kind of a leader you are who is at the forefront of committing offences. It gives the impression of one who dreams while awake,” Mujaya said.
“Political messages cannot be communicated via petrol bombs. Such type of behaviour is best suited to countries like Afghanistan.”
Mujaya’s sentence fell short of prosecutor Michael Reza’s call that the convict ought to have been sentenced to 25 years in prison or at least an effective 20-year jail term.
Mujaya simply said: “The 25-year jail term being called for by the State is too harsh.”
In mitigation, Kuchata said he was a married man and had a four-year-old daughter. Besides, he said, he was looking after his aged parents and five other siblings.
Last week, Kuchata told the court he believed the bombing would have made Mugabe feel the pain that the majority of Zimbabweans were feeling under his rule.
“In my view, I saw the problems of Zimbabwe as being caused by Mugabe considering the demolition of houses, terminations of employment on three months’ notice or lack of action against persons accused of corruption,” Kuchata said.
Among those he cited as corrupt, but not charged are former Premier Service Medical Aid Society boss Cuthbert Dube, former Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation CEO Happison Muchechetere and former CMED board chair Godwills Masimirembwa.