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Published: November 2, 2009
Harare(ZimEye)Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Deputy Minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu, his personal aide and two other women accused of stealing war venterans leader, Joseph Chinotimba’s cellphone, were yesterday cleared of the charges.
This acquittal comes as another Bikita West legislator Heya Shoko, who was facing charges of abusing Government subsidised inputs, was also quickly acquitted as the State suddenly closed case. The dramatic spiral acquittal of MDC MPs has come at an ironic time at which President Mugabe was quoted Monday quickly stating:
“We are ready to brief the regional leaders on the problems we are facing.”
The state broadsheet, the Herald then quickly published Monday evening that Mahlangu, Malvern Chadamoyo, the women — Geraldine Phiri and Patience Nyoni — were found to be guiltless of theft charges by Harare magistrate Mr Kudakwashe Jarabini for lack of incriminating evidence.
Before their acquittal, Chinotimba (above) had attempted to sue Mahlangu of millions claiming that he had lost a substantial amount of business revenue after losing his cellphone.
Acquitting the four, Mr Jarabini said the State had dismally failed to prove a case against them and that they were entitled to an acquittal.
“The State failed to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt . . . The court finds them not guilty hence the accused persons are entitled to an acquittal,” he said.
He said the State’s case was riddled with inconsistencies with some witnesses contradicting themselves. Mr Jarabini said the evidence adduced in court did not prove that Deputy Minister Mahlangu and his aide meant to permanently deprive Chinotimba of his mobile phone.
“It cannot be disputed that accused 3 (Mahlangu) told accused 4 (Chadamoyo) to return it to the organisers, no evidence was led to rebut that assertion,” he said.
The magistrate also said none of the witnesses saw the four stealing the cellphone in question.
He said it was not in dispute that Phiri and Nyoni were not at the Harare International Conference Centre where the alleged theft occurred.
Mr Jarabini said the State did not lead any evidence to corroborate that Mahlangu and Chadamoyo had lunch with the complainant (Chinotimba).
In the case of the Bikita West legislator, Harare magistrate Ms Gloria Takundwa also cleared Shoko of the charges after the State failed to prove a solid case against the legislator.
In her ruling, Ms Takundwa said the main witness in the case, Major Mapuranga, abandoned his recorded statement and told the court a different version discrediting the State case.
She said the State had failed to prove the essential elements of the case and also failed to link the offence to the legislator.
In his application for discharge, defence lawyer Mr Douglas Mwonzora contended that the evidence led by the prosecution was insufficient for a reasonable court to convict Shoko.