Biti's court challenge thrown out

HARARE - A Harare magistrate yesterday threw out a challenge by MDC Alliance official Tendai Biti who was contesting the authority of Zimbabwean courts to prosecute him arguing he was unconstitutionally removed from Zambia where he was seeking asylum.

Magistrate Francis Mapfumo concurred with the State that Biti was arrested on Zimbabwean soil and ruled out the possibility of violation of any international refugee laws.

According to Mapfumo, charges of contravening the Electoral Act which were levelled against Biti for allegedly prematurely announcing presidential election results were properly placed.

However, Mapfumo relaxed Biti’s bail reporting conditions from twice-a-day to once every Friday until the case is finalised.

The hearing resumes on October 2.

“The accused person was handed over to the police by Immigration officials therefore no international laws were violated. What the accused person did uttering that the MDC Alliance leader had won the election was indeed a violation of the Electoral Act,” Mapfumo said.

“Further to that claims by the accused person that his relatives and friends were harassed are baseless in the absence of evidence to show that any of the parties reported the cases to the police. The court finds that there is no basis to permanently stay this case.”

Biti’s lawyer Alec Muchadehama who appeared with Harrison Nkomo advised the court of their intentions to challenge the case at the High Court. 

Biti had argued that after placing his appeal in Zambia he was issued with an order to appear before Justice Siyalonga J on August 8 and present his petition.

He told Mapfumo that after being put in the custody of Zambian Immigration officials he was later moved to Chirundu Police Station where three soldiers wearing balaclavas forced him out before he was attacked by a marauding crowd.

His lawyer then, Beatrice Mtetwa said the Zimbabwe agents who dragged him from Zambia had seriously violated international statutes on Refugee Law.

On the issue of election results being announced Mtetwa had referred the court to section 66a (3) which authorises publication of information derived from polling stations based returns.

“…he or she shall not be construed as preventing any person from reporting the number of votes received by a candidate or political party in an election, where the report is based on polling station returns and constituency returns from the election concerned…,” reads the section.

It was alleged that on July 30, Biti held a presser at 4951 Highlands in Harare.

Biti was quoted saying:’’We have now received from our agents across the country...results of the election show that the next president of this country is Chamisa...”
According to the State, Biti acted unlawfully by announcing such results before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had done so.

It was further alleged that on August 1, Biti was with Jim Kunaka and met some of the 60 demonstrators that clashed with the army in town.

Biti was quoted saying: Ahoi, Ahoi, Tshisa mpama tshisa endai munobvisa banner iro (go and remove that banner)”.

The court heard that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s banner was stripped and burnt to ashes.

Biti is alleged to have parked his car at Zanu Pf headquarters while rioters shattered window panes, burnt cars and vandalised property.

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Comments (1)

So, as it turns out, Biti was the main instigator of the violence that led to the deaths of 7 people. He now spuriously claims refugee status (self-accorded). The long arm of the law will catch up with this violent thug that masquerades as a politician.

Buns Tinobvinex - 1 September 2018

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