Fungai Lupande Court Reporter
The Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison jailbreak trial yesterday took a new twist after a witness requested maximum protection saying the foiled jailbreak was politically motivated as it involved high ranked prison officials.
Convicted Independent End Time Message leader Robert Martin Gumbura and armed robber Lucky Matambanadzo (39), Blessing Chauke (25), Lucky Mhungu (38), Taurai Dodzo (47), Thomas Chacha (37), Thulani Chizema (32), Jacob Sibanda (28) and Elijah Vhumbunu (38) are suspected of inciting the jailbreak.
The first witness, who is an inmate, John Claudius Mutise, told the court before he was sworn under oath that he was not at liberty to give evidence. “This case is politically motivated. It involves high ranked prison officials and currently we are receiving threats,” said Mutise.
Before he could finish his application the prosecutor Mr Michael Reza interjected and requested to have a word with Mutise. Mr Reza then applied for the matter to be postponed saying his witness was not able to proceed.
Gumbura’s lawyer Mr Tapson Dzvetero, objected to have the trial postponed saying what Mr Reza muzzled from Mutise was helpful in Gumbura’s defence.
“What the witness was saying was crucial to this trial. He is likely being coaxed into fabricating a case against the accused,” said Mr Dzvetero. Harare magistrate Mr Francis Mapfumo, ordered Mutise to come and explain to the court.
Said Mutise: “I am in danger and I need to liaise with prison officials to have maximum protection. “At the moment I was moved to stay with those condemned. I have decided to place my application on hold until I am guaranteed of security.”
The nine are facing charges of attempting to escape from lawful custody, incitement in aggravating circumstances or alternatively conspiracy in aggravating circumstances for allegedly maliciously damaging property.
They are also facing charges of incitement to assault or resist a law officer.