Khupe driver up for robbery

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THE lawyer representing Witness Dube, the driver of MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe, yesterday asked the court not to allow itself to be used to further perpetuate party squabbles, when his client applied for bail.

SILAS NKALA
STAFF REPORTER

Dube was arrested for allegedly being part of a group of party youths that hijacked and assaulted the driver of ousted Matabeleland North chairperson Sengezo Tshabangu and his two passengers as the wrangle for party property escalated.

Dube was not asked to plead to charges of robbery and assault when he appeared before Bulawayo senior magistrate Sibongile Msipa yesterday.

Dube’s lawyer Tanaka Muganyi said he had been made to understand that the offence his client committed was not a serious robbery case, but just plain robbery.

“This is an unfortunate case when this court is being used to interfere in the squabbles of the MDC,” Muganyi submitted. “I have noticed that the accused is the driver of party vice-president Khupe and security personnel, and it is important that this court is made aware of the matter. The courts cannot be used as a vehicle to perpetuate the internal dispute in the party.”

Muganyi further submitted that the property in question, which is an Isuzu KB 240 vehicle, belonged to the MDC-T and on May 29 an instruction was issued to provincial secretaries of the party to safeguard and protect the party’s property in all provinces.

“The reason is that authority from the party’s president Morgan Tsvangirai to repossess party properties cannot be taken advantage of to deny accused bail in view that he may commit another offence. The State is aware that there is civil misunderstanding within the party,” he said.

Muganyi also said it was unfortunate that the civil matter within the MDC-T had spilled into a criminal court where Dube was now facing robbery charges.

“I also confirm that accused surrendered himself to the police. It was publicised in the papers that the accused did not attempt to influence or intimidate anyone in this matter and I will submit that accused person is a good candidate for bail. He has no previous conviction, is a well-known political figure of fixed abode, did not attempt to evade course of justice and is a person prepared to see finalisation of this matter,” Muganyi said.

He also said the vehicle in question was already at MDC-T head office in Harare and Dube could not conceal it.

Opposing bail, Detective Sergeant Patrice Nyanhete of the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) Law and Order, who is the investigating officer, said in the course of investigating Dube’s case, he went to the accused’s Gwabalanda home, but did not find him.

Nyanhete said he left a letter with Dube’s wife advising him to report to CID Law and Order Bulawayo to assist with investigations, but the accusd did not comply.

“I also phoned him on his cellphone and he promised to come, but never showed up. I also visited No 6 Irene Road in Sauerstown but did not find him and I left a note that he must come to the Law and Order offices,” he said.

“On May 29 2014 Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T spokesperson) came to my office and claimed that he was representing accused.

“I asked for his practicing certificate and he produced an expired certificate, but did not bring accused with him.”

Nyanhete said he realised that Mwonzora had been sent to find out the seriousness of the charge.

“I had to tell him that it was a simple assault case in order to have the accused brought to the Bulawayo Central Police Station,” he said.

When Muganyi asked him if Dube had brought himself to the police, Nyanhete admitted, but indicated that it was after he tricked Mwonzora to believe that he was facing a minor charge.

“The other reason I am opposed to his bail is that he is facing a serious charge which involves a vehicle, cash amounting to $380 and two cellphones — property which has not yet been recovered,” he said.

When the State told him that Dube was acting on instructions to repossess party properties, Nyanhete said the way it was done was unlawful.

Msipa remanded the matter to today for ruling.