HARARE - A Harare regional magistrate yesterday jailed an opposition Zimbabwe People’s Front (ZPF) president for nine years on charges of attempting to firebomb the First Family’s Alpha Omega Dairies in Mazowe.
Owen Kuchata was convicted on charges of possession of weaponry for sabotage, money laundering and terrorism.
He was jailed by regional magistrate Hosea Mujaya after pleading guilty to the charges.
Mujaya sentenced Kuchata to nine years’ imprisonment for the first count before suspending one year on condition of good behaviour.
Kuchata was slapped with two more years on the second count, of which one year would run concurrently with the first sentence.
He will serve an effective nine years.
“The fact that the accused person and his accomplices went for reconnaissance at the scene a few days before showed that the offence was premeditated, however, a sentence of life imprisonment would be too harsh because no damage or injuries were recorded,” Mujaya said in his ruling.
“A deterrent sentence is called for like-minded individuals to appreciate that politics cannot be communicated using bombs.”
In mitigation, Kuchata pleaded for the court’s leniency because he was a family man with greater responsibilities to his extended family.
He said after forming ZPF in 2012, he observed the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans and wanted to send a signal to President Robert Mugabe that “enough was enough”.
“As a party leader, I realised that people were losing their jobs, the health sector was deteriorating, houses were being demolished and people like (Goodwills) Masimirembwa, (Happison) Muchechetere and Cuthbert (Dube) were getting away with corruption,” said Kuchata.
“When we went to bomb Alpha Omega, we had prepared party fliers that we would leave at the scene for the president to know the persons responsible for the bombing but realised later that it was unlawful.”
Prosecutor Michael Reza had initially persuaded the court to jail Kuchata for at least 25 years.
“The convicted person decided to apologise as an afterthought because his conduct shows that he wanted to inflict pain on the president,” Reza said.
“The public has been following this case and if the courts are lenient with him, people out there will think they can just commit similar offences and get away with it.”