Tendai Rupapa Senior Court Reporter
Zimbabwe People’s Front political party leader Owen Kuchata (34), who tried to petrol-bomb the First Family’s Alpha Omega Dairy farm in Mazowe, will be sentenced today after he made a dramatic change to his plea from not guilty to guilty.
On Friday last week, Kuchata was brought before regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya for plea recording and pleaded guilty to wanting to petrol-bomb the First Family’s dairy.
He said it was his idea to commit the offence.
Kuchata later excepted to the charge of terrorism and changed his plea to not guilty after arguing Alpha Omega Dairy was not a Government property, but President Mugabe’s private enterprise.
Prosecuting, Mr Michael Reza maintained that terrorism charges were appropriate, saying the attack was not targeted at the dairy as an outfit, but at the office of the Presidency of Zimbabwe.
Mr Mujaya had set his trial date for February 24, but Kuchata was later back in court on the same day changing his “not guilty” plea to guilty.
Kuchata told the court that when he initially changed his guilty plea to not guilty, he had misunderstood the interpreter.
He said when the interpreter told him what was happening in Shona, it sounded as if he was alleged to have wanted to bomb State property.
Kuchata repeated that his sole intention was to bomb the private property of the President in his personal capacity, not State property.
Kuchata, who had been given the State papers for him to prepare his defence, said after carefully going through all the papers, he came to the conclusion that at law he did not have the right to commit the offence.
Initially, he had told the court that he had the right to bomb Alpha Omega Dairy saying: “Since I am representing the rights of other Zimbabweans, I had the right to bomb his private property because Robert Mugabe is causing disorder and problems in this country.”
Mr Mujaya ordered the State to produce the original document from Standards Association of Zimbabwe which certified that the bombs were real and lethal after a photocopy of the document was produced.
Kuchata is jointly charged with Borman Ngwenya (30) on charges of insurgency, sabotage banditry or terrorism.
He is facing an additional charge of money laundering for terrorism purposes.
He is charged with Ngwenya, Solomon Makumbe (29) and Silas Pfupa (37) in another case of treason after further investigations revealed that they sought to overthrow the Government through unconstitutional means.
Treason charges emerged after it was discovered that the quartet had established a militia training base in Mapinga, Mashonaland West, where they planned to commit terror acts, sabotage and banditry.
It is alleged they proceeded to President Mugabe’s rural home in Zvimba where they carried out investigations, identifying suitable vulnerable points to sabotage.