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Minister quizzed over inconsistent statements

Local News
Rwodzi is Chirumanzu South legislator, while Cheza was the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate for the same constituency in the August 23 harmonised elections.

TOURISM and Hospitality Industry minister Barbara Rwodzi was last Friday quizzed over inconsistencies in the statements she made in a case in which her political rival, Patrick Cheza, and three other opposition activists are accused of public violence.

Rwodzi is Chirumanzu South legislator, while Cheza was the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate for the same constituency in the August 23 harmonised elections.

During cross-examination at the beginning of the trial, Cheza’s lawyers Esau Mandipa and Leopold Mudisi questioned Rwodzi’s contradictory statements which were submitted in court.

The statements were recorded in Mvuma and Harare last year.

Testifying before Gweru provincial magistrate Beaulity Dube, Rwodzi said Cheza (50) incited his supporters to beat her up.

She, however, said she did not see the other accused persons Magmaster Chidyawuye (21), Delight Zinyemba (22) and Courage Mugova (20) assaulting her, saying her alleged attackers were too many, hence she could not identify them.

The defence counsel, however, exposed inconsistencies in Rwodzi’s statements submitting that when she gave her statement to the police, she said she was pushed to the ground, but in court, she said she fell to the ground after dodging one of the assailants not among the accused who wanted to stab her with a knife.

When asked why there were inconsistencies in her statements, Rwodzi said the one she gave while in the witness stand was the truth before she refused to answer further questions.

The defence lawyers, however, reminded Rwodzi that the pertinent questions she was refusing to respond to were “important in assisting the court to do justice”.

The Cabinet minister stunned the court when she admitted to signing the police statements without reading them.

The defence counsel poked holes in the minister’s two statements, submitting that in both statements, she never mentioned utterances allegedly made by Cheza that: “Barbara is here,” which she indicated in her evidence during cross-examination, when she said the accused initiated the violence which led to the assault.

The lawyers argued that the statements were fabricated to punish Cheza on political grounds since they were inconsistent with what transpired on the day in question.

The lawyers also raised questions over the authenticity of Rwodzi’s medical report.

The lawyers submitted that the “minister used her position to coerce the doctor at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals to provide a fake medical report”, which they said was contradictory to X-ray and scan reports from the privately-owned Trauma Centre.

They further argued that the report from the private hospital is not admissible in court, according to the law.

It is reported that on August 24 last year, Cheza allegedly incited CCC members to assault Rwodzi, after his car was allegedly involved in an accident with the minister’s vehicle along the Charandura-Chaka dust road.

The matter was postponed to March 7 for trial continuation.

Taurai Mavuto and Ruvimbo Mutemeri prosecuted.

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