TWELVE villagers arrested in Matobo on Monday on charges of kidnapping and threatening to axe an employee of State security agent, Rodney Mashingaidze who has taken over Maleme Farm, were yesterday released on free bail by a Kezi magistrate.
Magistrate Jimmy Ntonga waived away stringent bail conditions requested by the State represented by prosecutor Jefta Nyikadzinashe, arguing that the prosecution was being unreasonable.
The State had suggested $300 bail, surrender of travel documents and strict reporting conditions, but Ntonga said this was not necessary as “there is no evidence that the aged accused might flee the country or fail to attend court”.
“There is no doubt in my view that $300 is so exorbitant that it would get to prevent the accused from being granted bail,” he said.
“Where do we expect them to get the $300 for bail?
“We have not seen any conduct by the accused that they might flee or fail to attend court and so what is the point of asking for that money when the accused co-operated with the police?”
Ntonga said there was no evidence that the accused could flee, making it pointless to demand for their travel documents.
“If there is no evidence, where does this fear come from?
“If there is fear, it is unfounded,” he said.
The magistrate set March 17 as the trial date, before releasing the villagers on free bail and ruling that they should not interfere with State witnesses and the complaint, Mashingaidze and his employees.
According to the State outline, an aide of Chief Masuku, Killian Masuku and 11 others, descended on Maleme Ranch on Monday carrying knobkerries and axes, and kidnapped 56-year-old Cephas Ndlovu, who is employed by Mashingaidze.
The State says the villagers “unlawfully deprived Ndlovu of bodily movement by force-marching him from Shalom Farm to Nathisa shopping centre, threatening him with knobkerries and axes”.
For threatening Mashingaidze’s employee and force-marching him, the villagers face charges of kidnapping, as defined by section 93(1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform Act) Chapter 9:23.
The villagers, represented by Tanaka Muganyi of Dube Banda, Nzarayapenga and Partners, denied charges of kidnapping Mashingaidze’s employee.
The villagers argued that instead, Ndlovu was stealing from their poultry projects at the farm and they had apprehended him.
Mashingaidze is a senior member of the Central Intelligence Organisation in Matabeleland South.