BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA
OUTSPOKEN Ntabazinduna chief, Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni yesterday finally tasted freedom after the Bulawayo High Court granted him $500 bail pending appeal on a charge of malicious damage to property.
Justice Thompson Mabhikwa admitted Ndiweni to bail after a dramatic hearing earlier in the morning.
Ndiweni’s lawyer, Welshman Ncube told Justice Mabhikwa that it was surprising why the State led by Kudakwashe Jaravaza was pushing for a custodial sentence when it had initially agreed when the matter was held at the Tredgold Magistrate’s Court about two weeks ago, that a non-custodial sentence would suffice.
Ironically, Jaravaza was the trial prosecutor when Ndiweni and his 23 co-accused persons appeared at the Tredgold Magistrate’s Court before magistrate Gladmore Mushove.
“My Lord, the law does not require the applicant to satisfy you that their application will succeed when the matter goes for review. The law simply requires us to convince you that the appeal in this matter (against both the conviction and sentence imposed) will indeed succeed,” Ncube said.
He said he was confident the appeal would succeed and that community service in this matter was adequate to meet the charge laid upon the applicant and his co-accused.
“The State agreed to a community service sentence at the time. We wonder why now my learned friend is submitting to the contrary, even at the expense of submitting against his conscience,” he added.
Justice Mabhikwa, while responding to Jaravaza’s submissions, took issues with the State’s change of position.
“Mr Jaravaza, what do you mean when you say there is a different set of circumstances that have made you change from your proposition while at the lower court?” quizzed the judge.
Jaravaza failed to give a coherent explanation.
After closing the arguments from both Ndiweni and the State’s attorneys, Justice Mabhikwa noted that the courts needed to play its final arbiter’s role and that he would admit the chief to bail.
“I am not inclined to rule whether the appeal will be devoid of merit or that it is deemed frivolous or vexatious and that it will fail at a later stage.
Therefore, this court rules that the application (for bail pending appeal) succeeds and that the applicant be admitted to $500 bail to be deposited with the Registrar of the Bulawayo High Court,” he ruled.
Ndiweni will have to report once every week on Fridays at Ntabazinduna Police Station until the matter is finalised.