BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
JOURNALIST Hopewell Chin’ono’s lawyers yesterday said magistrate Ngoni Nduna should be arrested and face trial for querying why the State did not oppose bail in Henrietta Rushwaya’s gold smuggling case.
Chin’ono said this in court while defending his posts on social media which landed him back in prison after he was re-arrested for stating on his Twitter account that Rushwaya’s gold smuggling case had exposed massive corruption in the country which cost Zimbabwe billions in foreign currency.
Chin’ono is challenging his placement on remand through his lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa and Gift Mtisi.
He is being accused of stating on his Twitter handle that the prosecution was not going to oppose bail for Rushwaya, who was yet to be arrested.
In her arguments, Mtetwa told the court that Chin’ono did not commit an offence by posting the tweet which stated that the State would not oppose Rushwaya’s bail.
“So Mr Nduna should also be in the dock since he queried why the State did not oppose bail, the same way Chin’ono did. The State subsequently withdrew the consented bail. Why should Chin’ono be in the dock for just calling for an end to corruption?” she queried.
Allegations against Chin’ono are that from October 25 to 27, he posted information that impaired the dignity, reputation and authority of the courts, and that he had been having secret and unlawful communication with members of the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) on his Twitter handle, thus undermining the criminal proceedings against him.
Chin’ono also claimed that Zimbabwe was losing US$1,2 billion every year in illicit financial flows (IFFs) in the gold mining sector, adding the money could be used to resuscitate the country’s comatose health sector if the IFFs were curbed.
“Zimbabwe is losing US$1,2 billion every year through gold smuggling, an amount which can be used to run all central hospitals for 24 years, and, therefore, as a journalist, I couldn’t ignore such a case on gold smuggling,” he said.
Chin’ono had clocked close to two months in remand prison after getting arrested in July for allegedly inciting Zimbabweans to revolt against President Emmerson Mnangagwa for bringing the country to its knees, and was released on bail in September.
The State, represented by prosecutor Lancelot Mutsokoti, insisted that the tweet constituted an offence and Chin’ono was directly linked to it.
Magistrate Marehwanazvo Gofa remanded the matter to today for bail ruling.