Mutsekwa acquitted

MUTARE - Former Housing and Social Amenities minister Giles Mutsekwa has been acquitted of inciting political violence in the run-up to last year’s  elections.

Mutsekwa faced charges of masterminding the assault of an MDC colleague at the height of intra-party conflicts ahead of the July 31 vote.

But Magistrate Noah Gwatidzo acquitted him, while finding Kingstone Mutandi, the Mutare mayor’s driver guilty of assault. Gwatidzo exonerated Raphael Mutandi of any involvement.

Both Mutsekwa and Raphael Mutandi had given a defence of alibi which Gwatidzo said the state had failed to disprove even describing Mutsekwa’s driver, Lawrence Kachipare, as having been the most reliable witness in the whole trial for his “lack of political incentive to lie.”

The magistrate said one would need to overstretch their imagination not to have believed his claims that it was him and not Mutsekwa who was driving the ministerial Prado on the day in question as he was proved to be a “clear, consistent and credible witness.”

While the mayoral driver had “tried to escape conviction” by raising a “defence of self argument”, Magistrate Gwatidzo said there was no proof that this had been a street fight in which the elder Mutandi had emerged victorious as he had argued.

In mitigation, defence lawyer Chris Ndlovu argued that his client be given a lenient sentence as he was a first time offender who had not caused “very serious” injuries on MDC Ward 9 councillor Crispen Dube.

The medical report classified Dube’s injuries as serious but not life threatening.

Ndlovu argued for a “punitive monetary sentence” as his client had only “succumbed to emotion in a moment of weakness” and “attacked at the spur of the moment.”

However, prosecutor Malvern Musarurwa contested the defence’s argument, saying the court should also consider how Dube’s assault only ended at the intervention of an army officer, implying that Kingstone would have continued with his assault.

Musarurwa is pushing for a jail term as both reformative and deterrent as opposed to a monetary sentence.

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