MLF member acquitted

BULAWAYO - One of the members of the secessionist Matabeleland Liberation Front (MLF) trio, Charles Thomas, accused of trying to topple President Robert Mugabe’s government, has been acquitted.

Former Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou freed Thomas after a three-year battle with treason charges preferred against him.

He was jointly charged with John Gazi and fugitive presidential candidate Paul Siwela.

Gazi was early this year freed after his application for discharge was granted at the close of the State’s case.

This was after the State failed to prove a prima facie case against him while Siwela is in self-imposed exile.

Siwela fled abroad, citing danger on his life after receiving death threats as a result of the case. A warrant of arrest has been issued against him.

Delivering his judgment yesterday, Justice Ndou said constable Chidhakwa and Magama who arrested the accused had made contradictory statements which made them incredible witnesses.

He said the officers had contradicting statements on how many flyers they found in possession of the accused.

“Their testimonies are unreliable as evidenced by the fact that the flyers and calendars said to have been discovered could not be produced in court as exhibits during trial,” Justice Ndou said.

The presiding judge said the State failed to produce the original flyers which were said to have been distributed but instead produced one purported to be similar to that.

“Based on this, there is no need to assess if these flyers had a treasonous message or not,” Ndou said.

“Again, there is no need to consider the objective of MLF as lawful or not because the State has failed to produce a considerable foundation that there is no truth in it.”

Justice Ndou found the accused not guilty and acquitted him. He, however, indicated the case involving Siwela would be dealt with when he returns.

Thomas had his application for discharge dismissed by Justice Ndou at the close of the State case in December last year.

He was represented by advocate Lucas Nkomo and Robert Ndlovu while the State was led by Loveck Masuku representing Samuel Pedzisai who initially handled the case.

Gazi, Thomas and Siwela were arrested while distributing pamphlets with incriminating messages in 2011 and were charged of trying to unseat the Zanu PF government through unconstitutional means.

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