BULAWAYO – A soldier who claimed to have carried out the White City Stadium bombing in June 2018 while trying to impress a girlfriend was jailed for 12 years, his lawyer said.

Tendai Saunyama Kandima, who worked for Military Intelligence, was convicted of making statements prejudicial to the state by the General Court Martial.

Kandima had no lawyer during his trial. Harare lawyer Innocent Gonese – instructed by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights – has taken up his case aiming to secure his release to enable him to undergo urgent treatment for a heart ailment.

Gonese told the online tabloid ZimLive: “I’ve just been engaged, and we’ll look at our options. Obviously, an appeal can only be made to the Supreme Court because the General Court Martial is the same as the High Court.”

Gonese hopes to secure Kandima’s release on compassionate grounds. He is serving an effective six years after half of his sentence was conditionally suspended.

No-one has been charged over the June 23, 2018, grenade attack which happened as President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputies Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi were leaving a Zanu PF rally at White City Stadium in Bulawayo.

Three security aides of the president were killed and 40 others – including Mohadi – were injured in the explosion.

Mnangagwa told the BBC he knew who was behind the attack, and promised that arrests would be made after elections held in July 2018 – but an inter-agency investigation into the incident has failed to make headway.

Kandima, according to Gonese, boasted to his girlfriend that he was behind the bombing in a WhatsApp message sent early last year. The message eventually found its way to the military leading to his arrest and detention at 2 Infantry Brigade at Kaguvi Barracks in Harare. It was later established that Kandima was in India when the incident happened.

He was tried by the military court accused of “publishing or communicating a wholly or materially false statement with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of undermining public confidence in a law enforcement agency.”

Father-of-two Kandima lived in Chitungwiza with his wife.

-Local media/ Bulawayo 24