Court orders witnesses to attend trial

FIVE witnesses have been advised by a Bulawayo magistrate to attend the trial of a city lawyer Tungamirai Nyengera and his co-accused, an officer in charge at Khami Maximum prison, Absolom, which is commencing on January 21.

Richard Muponde/
Silas Nkala

The pair is accused of forging a warrant of liberation for a convict at Khami Maximum prison.

Magistrate Sibongile Msipa-Marondedze advised the five — Byron Sengweni, Richard Bhebhe, Lillian Tapera, Nobert Ushe and Joyce Sibanda — on Tuesday when the pair appeared for routine remand.

Nyengera and Hlupho are languishing in remand prison awaiting judge Justice Martin Makonese’s ruling in their application for bail, which is before the High Court.

The pair filed an appeal at the Bulawayo High Court last week following the dismissal of their bail application by Msipa-Marondedze earlier on.

They were not formally charged when they briefly appeared in court.

Nyengera and Hlupho are facing allegations of trying to facilitate the release of a serving convict, Lungisani Sibanda,
from Khami Maximum Prison using a fraudulent warrant of liberation. Sibanda was convicted and sentenced to 10 years for carjacking.

The two indicated that they were pleading not guilty to fraud during their initial appearance in court on December 29 last year.

Msipa-Marondedze, however, denied the pair bail, noting that it was clear that this was a syndicate operation, where more individuals were yet to be arrested.

In his appeal against refusal to grant bail filed at the Bulawayo High Court, Nyengera, through his lawyer, Mlamuli Ncube of Cheda and Partners, argued that the court had erred in basing its refusal to grant bail by citing the seriousness of the offence as its reason.

Meanwhile, a new magistrate is to be assigned to the case, while the charge the two are facing will be amended.

On Tuesday, it was revealed that a neutral magistrate and a prosecutor who has never associated with the two would have to be assigned to deal with the matter.

The matter was remanded to January 21.

Hlupo said he had been in the prison service for 19 years and since he was pleading not guilty, he would not skip bail as he wanted to see the conclusion of the case.

They had asked to be allowed to report to the Criminal Investigations Department in Bulawayo once a week until their case was finalised.

Meanwhile, Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Makonese has indefinitely reserved his ruling in the two’s bail application.

The development will see Nyengera and Hlupho further languishing in prison after already spending two weeks behind bars.

The two filed an appeal at the Bulawayo High Court last week following the dismissal of their bail application by a Bulawayo magistrate.

Makonese heard the arguments but indefinitely reserved his judgment.

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