Biti assault victim testifies

Businesswoman Tatiana Aleshina and her aide

BUSINESSWOMAN Tatiana Aleshina on Friday told Harare a Harare magistrate that she froze in fear as opposition CCC legislator and lawyer Tendai Biti charged towards her shouting unprintable words inside the court grounds in November 2020.

Aleshina became emotional as she recounted the incident while leading evidence for prosecutor Michael Reza. She said she had never experienced such level of intimidation before.

"When we were already in the court corridor, l suddenly heard big noise and shouting behind my back, to say Tatiana you're stupid, stupid, stupid. I immediately stopped in shock and l turned l saw a huge giant person, Tendai Biti with a crowd of people charging towards me. I did not understand what was going on as l had never seen him personally. I never knew who he was," Aleshina told court.

She added: "I asked looking into his eyes and l said are you talking to me? Accused person became more aggressive, shouting, pointing his right forefinger on my face. He started shouting. His body was shaking, he was aggressive and somebody tried to calm him down.

"My colleague Michael van Blerk then stood in front of me, someone said it's not right, it's dangerous here and let us go. He was aggressive and l felt like he would physically attack me. I am a mother of five kids and a foreigner in this country l never experienced this in my life. l thought l was in danger and left."

"I felt he would kill me just now, l felt shaking and humiliated. l felt he is violating my woman's rights, he was showing the men’s power on me."

Aleshina said after the incident she felt confused and wondered around the court for some minutes, looking for an exit point.

"Somebody came to me while walking out and asked why Biti was shouting at me and l couldn't answer that. Someone said Biti can't treat women like that,you need to report him to police. I decided to go to the Russian embassy and reported. They calmed me down, and we managed to call my lawyers and they accompanied me to the police to report the matter," she told court.

She said while at the police, she discovered that her half body was numb and the police offered to assist her to go to the hospital but she then proceeded to Borrowdale Trauma Centre where she got treatment.

" I am a health person but what l experienced l never had that in my life. I couldn't hold my hand, my lip was also numb. I was put on drips and the record is with my doctor," she said.

Magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti-Guwuriro postponed the matter to Thursday this week for continuation of trial.  Biti has denied the charge.

The trial took place after long arguments with Biti's lawyer Alec Muchadehama insisting of referral of the matter to the Constitutional Court saying his client’s rights were being violated as the magistrate had shown bias in the case.

Muchuchuti-Guwuriro has dismissed Biti’s previous applications for her recusal by Biti saying this was a bid to delay the trial.

Biti later presented his defence to the charge saying there was no distinction between the alleged insults on the charge sheet or associated with assault.

He further said he could not be subjected to trial on provisions that are unconstitutional.

Trial continues on Thursday.

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