Patrick Chitumba Midlands Bureau Chief
MDC-Alliance Member of Parliament for Chiwundura Livingstone Chiminya will spend another week in remand prison while police are searching for two witnesses who were supposed to testify in the case, but disappeared before doing so.
Regional magistrate Mrs Phathekile Msipa remanded Chiminya in custody to January 29 after the prosecutor Mr Talent Tadenyika made an application for postponement of the matter to allow the police to locate the two witnesses.
“The State is given a week to look for the witnesses so that it is allowed to present its case fully,” said Mrs Msipa.
“At the same time having the witnesses helps the accused so that he defends himself. We need to balance both sides and the accused is remanded in custody to January 29.”
This was after Superintendent Ntombizodwa Mashamba from Law and Order had earlier told the court that they were failing to locate the witnesses.
“On Thursday last week I sent a team to look for the witnesses after they had their statements recorded,” she said. “Over the weekend a team also went and failed to locate them.
“It appears they just left because of the current situation and their whereabouts are unknown. I believe when the situation returns to normal they might come back. I believe they might have been intimidated.”
Chiminya’s lawyer Mr Brian Dube opposed the proposal for postponement, saying his client, who is denying the charges, must be released without any conditions.
“The subject matter has nothing to do with Chiminya, but the State,” he said. “It is wrong and abusive for the State to act in this manner. There is no legal document to the fact that the matter can be postponed to allow the police to hunt for the said witnesses.
“If it was a serious case, the witnesses should have been produced in court.”
Meanwhile, the MP for Mkoba Amos Chibaya, who is also the MDC-Alliance organising secretary, appeared before provincial magistrate Ms Charity Maphosa for continuation of his case on charges of incitement to commit a crime.
Through his lawyer Mr Reginald Chidawanyika, Chibaya pleaded not guilty.
Two State witnesses that were supposed to testify in the matter were also missing and Ms Maphosa was still to rule on the defence application for dismissal of the case.
Chibaya and Chiminya, the court heard, allegedly held meetings at their respective houses in Mkoba 13 and Mkoba 14 respectively on January 13 and incited MDC-Alliance youths to go onto the streets of Gweru to prevent the general public from going to work.