Judges quash MDC official's conviction

HARARE - The High Court has quashed the conviction of MDC chairman for Kuwadzana 4 Kuyeli Muchaiyana, who was accused of aiding MDC supporters with utility bills to register as voters.

Judges Felistas Chatukuta and Owen Tagu yesterday dropped the conviction, claiming that the trial magistrate erred in finding him guilty.

Muchaiyana was jailed for 12 months last year after being convicted on charges of possessing items for criminal use.

As part of his sentence, four years were suspended on condition Muchaiyana does not commit a similar offence within the next five years.

Through his lawyer Tonderai Bhatasara, Muchaiyana appealed against the conviction, leading to yesterday’s ruling.

“The learned trial magistrate misdirected himself by over-emphasising the appellant’s crime and under-estimating the ‘person, character and circumstances of the crime’ resulting in a miscarriage of justice,” he said.

The State had told the court that Muchaiyana had been found with utility bills belonging to N Kapita, M Ngirande, W Chinyama, V Mugebe and two Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company bills in the name of Newman Kapita and Bigben Mungwari. He was found with the utility bills in May last year, two months before the election.

The court heard that Muchaiyana had two papers, which had names and national identity numbers and two letters purported to have been authored by Kapita and Ngirande to support the proof of residence.

According to State papers, Muchaiyana intended to give the documents to different people who did not stay at the provided addresses to tender to the Registrar General’s office so that they would register as voters.

After his arrest, the court was told that Muchaiyana failed to give a satisfactory account of why he was in possession of the said items.

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