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Byo court acquits Shutdown protesters

A Bulawayo court has acquitted seven of the twelve suspects who were arrested during the January protests for torching three vehicles belonging to a local Zanu PF official.  

The twelve including activist Josphat Mzaca Ngulube were accused of burning three cars, destroying a precast wall and breaking several windows of a house belonging to Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial women’s league chairperson Eva Bitu.

Through their legal representatives from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, seven of the twelve walked free after the State failed to produce compelling evidence against them.

The lawyers had applied for a discharge at the close of the state case.

Bulawayo provincial magistrate Tinashe Tashaya acquitted Esther Mbewe, Fortune Masuku, Marshal Mpofu, Angeline Mwembe, Minenhle Mahlangu, Mwale Chifufu and Duduzile Amisi.

Magistrate Tashaya said the State produced evidence against Ngulube, Melusi Moyo, Lavenda Moyo, Thabisani Ngwenya and Otilia Sibanda hence they are supposed to present their defense case.

He remanded them to July 26.

State witnesses who testified, told the court that the accused persons smashed the windows of a Ford Ranger which belongs to the women’s league.

They said they used metal bars to smash the house windows before setting the car on fire.

The witnesses said the fire destroyed the house and burnt trees in the yard.

According to the State case as presented by Jetro Mada, on 14 January at about 7 am, the accused persons, acting in connivance with 100 others, unlawfully blocked the free movement of traffic at an intersection along Sizinda Road and Nketa Drive.

Mada said the crew accused Bitu of solely benefiting from taxpayers’ money and pushed her Ford Ranger out of the yard where they set it alight.

“Accused persons went back into the yard where they had left a Nissan NP300 and a Toyota Vitz. They set alight the Nissan whose flames destroyed part of the Vitz. The Ford Ranger and Nissan NP300 were burnt beyond repair,” said Mada.

Mada said the cars have a total value of $95 000.

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