Euphoria gripped Kwekwe magistrates’ court on Friday morning as opposition MDC Alliance supporters broke into song and dance following the acquittal of Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya and his Redcliff counterpart, Lloyd Mukapiko.
Chikwinya and Mukapiko were being accused of inciting public violence during the labor-backed stay-away and concurrent National Shutdown typified by violent protests which rocked the country early this year.
Addressing the media after their trial, the duo’s legal representative Wellington Davira of Gundu, Dube and Pamacheche legal practitioners said the acquittal was influenced by lack of substantial evidence on the part of the state.
“In short, they (Chikwinya and Mukapiko) were acquitted of the charges they were facing. They were facing charges of public violence (and) in the alternative inciting public violence. So, both of them were acquitted”, Davira said.
“The reasons for the acquittal were basically that their defense of alibi could not be rebutted. They were not at the place at the time it is alleged they committed the offense and they were not together because according to the allegation they were (said to be) together on the day in question. And, also the state could not prove its case beyond reasonable doubt which is the standard of proof required in criminal matters”, he said.
Testifying, state witnesses had previously alleged that the two MPs had been spotted at Rippers along Robert Mugabe Way in Kwekwe CBD where they allegedly addressed a predominantly MDC gathering and incited the crowd to engage in public violence on January 14, 2019.
It was alleged that the pair parked their Isuzu vehicle with unidentified number plates at Rippers and upon disembarking from the car; they were accused of having addressed a group of about 20 men identified as MDC supporters.
“Vakomana tanonoka, dzimwe nzvimbo dzatorohwa kudhara.Chitopindai chitsve muvharise town (Guys, we are behind time, other places have been hit. Get in and ensure it burns and have (Kwekwe) town closed)”, Chikwinya was accused of having uttered thus.
“Yes, we are late boys. VabvaRedcliff endaimunovharamaflea market ne rank yeRedcliff and then, imivemunodzikaimuvharisevanaOK, TM, ne rank ye Mbizo (Those who came from Redcliff, go down and ensure that OK, TM and Mbizo rank are closed)”, state witnesses accused, then.
The mass stay-away and concurrent demonstrations which hit the country early this year saw protesting Zimbabweans resorting to violence with business properties linked to the ruling Zanu PF political players being the most targeted.
The opposition has since been given the green-light to hold ‘peaceful’ demonstrations in Harare on August 16 amid worsening economic conditions in the southern African nation.