Politics

Lawyers poke holes in Cheza case

MARTIN MAWAYA

GWERU-Lawyers representing Patrick Cheza and three other opposition activists poked holes on the state witnesses’ statements, when Minister of Tourism and Hospitality, Barbara Rwodzi took the witness’ stand.

 Rwodzi who is the Chirumhanzu legislature  testified before Gweru Provincial Magistrate, Beaulity Dube, amid inconsistencies in her statements.

She submitted two written statements to the court, one recorded in Mvuma  on the 24th of August 2023,  after the incident occurred and the other recorded in Harare on the 16th September last year.

With Cheza (50),  Magmaster Chidyawuye (21), Delight Zinyemba (22) and Courage Mugova (20)  represented by Esau Mandipa of Mutatu & Mandipa Legal Practice and Leopold Mudisi of Mutendi, Mudisi & Shumba Legal Practitioners.

During intense cross examination by Cheza’s defense lawyers, Rwodzi told the court  that she did not know the real assailants.

“I did not know who exactly assaulted me. What I know is there was a man wearing a red T-shirt, wielding a knife, and he tried to attack me. I then fell down, and they started kicking me on the legs and shoulders before I heard a gunshot,” she said.

She said her son George Chengeto Rwodzi lifted her from the ground after she fell down during the scuffle, evading an attack from a person wearing a red t-shirt, contradicting Gladys Chivige’s statement who was in her company which stated that Cheza helped her to get off the ground.

The defense counsel further exposed  inconsistencies in the state witnesses’ statements when investigating officer Thulani Ndlovu submitted an affidavit stating  that Cheza  and his accomplice came to the scene armed with an AK-47, a statement which surprised the Minister as she refuted it.

Instead, Rwodzi told the court that Cheza brought hordes of supporters at the accident scene, armed with machetes, logs and switches, which was flatly denied by the accused persons.

The Minister, who refused to answer some pertinent questions, which the defense counsel said were “important in assisting the court to do justice,” also stunned the court when she admitted to signing the police statement without reading it.

However, the lawyers submitted that the notion is far-fetched, as the incumbent legislature understands the importance of carefully reviewing documents before signing them, “hence attempting to mislead the courts with afterthought statements.”

They further argued that the Minister’s statements did not mention alleged threatening utterances  made by Cheza that “Babra is hear” which  the complainant said ignited violence, which ultimately led to her assault.

Mudisi, the court heard, argued that the statements were fabricated targeting to punish Cheza on political grounds, as they are inconsistency with what transpired in the day in question.

Another prominent lawyer, Mandipa raised some reservations on the authenticity of Rwodzi’s medical report.

He said the “Minister used his position to coerce the Doctor at Parerenyatwa Hospital into providing a fake medical report” which they say was contradictory to x-ray and scanning reports from Trauma Centre.

The defense counsel further argued that the report from the private hospital is not admissible to the courts according to the laws.

Cheza is accused of inciting CCC members to ‘beat’ Rwodzi, after his car was allegedly involved in a car accident with the then Deputy Minister’s vehicle along the Charandura-Chaka dust road.

The other three accused who were allegedly wielding iron bars and other weapons charged at Rwodzi.

 The four will return in court on March 7.

Taurai Mavuto and Ruvimbo Mutemeri prosecuted.

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