The bail hearing for Ntabazinduna Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe set for Tuesday was postponed after the state prosecutor asked for more time to respond to his application.
Instead, the matter shall be heard tomorrow (Wednesday) around 10am at the Bulawayo High Court.
Chief Ndiweni was sentenced to an effective 18 months in jail for malicious damage to property after he banished a villager and his wife for misdemeanors.
Appearing for the state, Kudakwashe Jaravaza said he and his team needed sufficient time to go through the chief’s bail application as they were served his application papers this morning at 10am.
“May the state be granted a chance to respond to the application we do note that this an urgent application and we will respond before end of day today,” the prosecutor told the court.
Representing Chief Ndiweni, Professor Welshman Ncube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers argued that although it was the state’s right to respond, they should have done so earlier since the record of proceedings from the state was served late to the defense.
“The application was first made on August 19 and on August 21 and the state was given ample time and knew of application. Therefore this matter should ordinarily be heard as it is urgent and the state is undoubtedly familiar with facts of case,” he said.
After hearing both sides, Judge Thompson Mabhikwa granted the state more time but set the bail hearing for tomorrow.
“The state should avail its response to the bail application and heads of arguments, if any, by end of day today, 4.30pm. Then case for bail hearing will be heard in court tomorrow at 10am,” he ruled.
In an interview with journalists outside the High Court, another of Chief Ndiweni’s counsel, Dumisani Dube, said the trial magistrate (Gladmore Mushowe) delayed to avail to the court the record of proceedings, which led to Justice Mabhikwa to issue an order Monday that whether the record is there or not the matter has to proceed Tuesday.
“Eventually we received that record of Court proceedings last night which we only managed to serve the state today so judge has requested that the matter be postponed state files its response and heads of arguments if any by end of day so we resume tomorrow at 10am,” he said.
Chief Ndiweni’s bail application is aside his appeal he made against his sentence, with reports indicating the Magistrate has still not supplied reasons for that sentencing.
Other prominent lawyers who were present for the bail hearing included Josphat Tshuma and David Coltart.
Coltart later tweeted: “My view in Chief Ndiweni bail application – It is appalling that the State isn’t ready to argue the matter resulting in Chief Ndiweni having to spend another night in detention in the disgusting conditions prevailing at Khami Prison.”
Meanwhile outside the High Court, people had gathered outside for the outcome under the watchful eye of anti-riot police.