Bulawayo – Two Bulawayo MDC Alliance councillors, Mlandu Ncube and Felix Mhaka along with party activist Eric Gono who were found guilty and convicted for assaulting break-away MDC-T faction leader, Thokozani Khupe, got a reprieve as their sentences were suspended pending re-trial.
Ncube, Mhaka and Gono were jointly sentenced to 12 months in prison. However, Magistrate Sithembile Ncube later ordered the trio to serve 210 hours of community service each at local schools after six months were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
Mlandu was to serve his sentence at Coghlan Primary School, Mhaka was to serve at Khumalo Primary while Gono was scheduled to serve at ZRP Magwegwe.
Represented by Prince Butshe Dube of Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers, the trio appealed against the sentence arguing that the court had relied on evidence presented by witnesses who were accomplices in the scuffles.
“The court aquo erred at law by relying on the evidence of accomplice witnesses without cautioning itself against the dangers of relying on the uncorroborated evidence of such witnesses who contradicted each other.
“The court aquo erred in fact and law when it adopted the boxing ring approach in appointing blame on the applicants when the evidence led was just that of the state witnesses against the appellants,” reads their appeal, served at the High Court of Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on July 25.
In March this year the trio, as well as nine other people, including former Bulawayo deputy mayor Gift Banda appeared in court in connection with intra party violence that broke out at the Provincial party headquarters in Bulawayo that saw break away leader Khupe and her aides being seriously injured and their cars damaged.
Khupe’s faction was at the time in control of the party’s Bulawayo provincial offices. Khupe’s personal assistant, Witness Dube, suffered a deep cut on the head during the clashes.
The disputes were rooted on factional fights between the then MDC-T deputy president Thokozani Khupe and MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa’s camps over who was the legitimate party leader after the death of founding party leader Morgan Tsvangirai.