The first witness in the trial of MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe’s driver on charges of assault and robbery has claimed he was not aware of the party’s second split that led to the birth of MDC-Renewal team.
Witness Dube and his alleged accomplice, Kunashe Muchemwa, face robbery and assault charges after they forcefully took an MDC-T vehicle which had been allocated to ousted Matabeleland North MDC-T chairperson Sengezo Tshabangu.
Dube of Gwabalanda and Muchemwa (32) of Old Luveve in Bulawayo, represented by Tanaka Muganyi, denied the charges of robbery and assault when they appeared before Bulawayo Regional Court magistrate Mark Dzira yesterday.
They are accused of being part of a group of MDC-T youths who hijacked a party vehicle driven by Lameck Ndlovu which was allocated to Tshabangu and assaulting him (Ndlovu).
The State represented by Tinashe Dzipe yesterday called Ndlovu to testify in court against the two.
In his evidence Ndlovu told the court that he was sent by his boss Tshabangu to collect money from a certain person known by his boss, and he drove the vehicle to corner Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Street and First Avenue, where he parked waiting for that person.
Ndlovu said as he waited to receive the money, Dube parked his car in front of his and blocked the way.
“The first accused came to the driver’s side of my vehicle, where I was seated and tried to open, but failed because it was locked,” he told the court.
Ndlovu said his window was slightly opened and Dube put his hand through it and tried to grab the keys.
A scuffle then ensued and Ndlovu says Dube and his accomplice assaulted him after pulling him out of the car.
“I had a Blackberry phone and $230 in my pocket, which disappeared during the attack,” he continued.
“All the money which I had, including that which was on the dashboard amounted to $300 and it all disappeared.”
He said the suspects had kicked him and tried to throw him in the back of the car, but he jumped off.
Ndlovu said about eight people attacked him, while shouting that he was a thief, so members of the public could join in the assault.
Ndlovu said he was not aware where the vehicle had been driven. The money taken was not recovered.
When the lawyer Muganyi asked him if the vehicle in question belonged to Tshabangu he expressed ignorance of its ownership, only indicating that he was employed by Tshabangu to drive it since 2010 while Tshabangu was still a chairperson for the province.
He stunned the court when he proclaimed ignorance that the MDC-T had recently split for the second time after Biti formed the Renewal team which Tshabangu belongs to.
“I am not aware of any split and as such I have regarded that as a rumour,” Ndlovu said.
“Since the attack, I ceased being a member of any political party and it is difficult to talk about things which you are no longer part of.”