I only hooked perpetrator with female soldier, claims accused

HARARE - A Zimbabwe National Army officer who is standing trial for allegedly attempting to bomb President Robert Mugabe’s Alpha Omega Dairy says he only facilitated a date for the core perpetrator with a fellow female soldier and denied being a mastermind of the alleged plot.

Borman Ngwenya, who is charged with Possession of Weaponry for Sabotage and Financing terrorist offences, appeared before Harare regional Fadzai Mthombeni yesterday.

During the initial court appearance, Ngwenya appeared jointly charged with Zimbabwe People’s Front political party leader Owen Kuchata, 34, — who is currently serving nine years for the crime and Silas Pfupa, 37, and Solomon Makumbe, 29, whose case recently spilled into the Constitutional Court after the presiding magistrate conceded that the lower courts needed guidance from superior courts over the issue.

“I was the crew commander in charge of displays at last year’s Zimbabwe Defence Forces Day celebrations at the National Sports Stadium.

“I noticed Kuchata holding his phone at the guns which were on display and approached him since it was not allowed to take pictures,” Ngwenya said at the opening of his defence case.

“When I confronted him, he said he was a member of the Criminal Intelligence Organisation and asked if I could hook him up with Rumbidzai Matsanga who was on my team. They later talked and started a relationship.”

The court heard that Kuchata and Matsanga’s relationship turned sour after she realised that he was involved in politics.

“I knew nothing about his party but got to know that it was a serious issue when my bosses summoned me to work while I was on leave. When I went to work they took me to Harare Central and had me detained there the whole night,” Ngwenya said.

“ . . . the following morning, I was presented with a call history of me and Kuchata and questioned why I associated with a politician yet I was a soldier.”

The trial was postponed to April 21 because the presiding magistrate had an urgent matter to attend to.

Ngwenya’s lawyer Exactly Mangezi claimed that his client had been sent by ZNA superiors to spy on Kuchata.

“The accused person had been tasked by his superiors at work namely Major Mashava to monitor and entrap . . . Kuchata whom he had developed acquaintance because they hail from the same rural home in Gokwe,” said Ngwenya.

“There was no intention on his part to commit acts of insurgency. He kept Major Mashava informed of Kuchata’s activities and on the day in question my client, Makumbe and Pfupa actually knew that they were walking into a trap.”

Prosecutor Michael Reza alleged that sometime in August last year; the accused persons held several meetings at Queens Hotel in Harare and planned to subvert a constitutionally-elected government.

Pursuant to their plan, the quartet went to Mapinga in Mashonaland West and formed a camp from which their members would be trained and operate.

On January 1, they went to Mugabe’s rural home in Zvimba and carried out surveillances to identify suitable vulnerable points to carry out the sabotage.

They later met on January 1,9 at Queens Hotel and resolved that they would use fertiliser bombs to fulfil their mission.

On January 22, around 4pm police received a tip-off that the quartet were planning to bomb Alpha and Omega dairies processing plant and tuck-shop during the night.

Police detectives proceeded to the farm and laid an ambush about 100 metres from the quartet’s target.

Around 10pm detectives saw the quartet approaching the dairy processing plant and immediately arrested them.

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