BULAWAYO High Court judge Nicholas Ndou has indefinitely reserved judgement in the application for discharge by the three Mthwakazi Liberation Front activists who are facing treason charges.
Paul Siwela, 49, Charles Thomas, 44, and John Gazi, 54, deny charges of soliciting the overthrow of President Robert Mugabe’s government through unconstitutional means.
The trio were arrested in March last year over allegations they distributed flyers bearing the logo of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front – a pressure group-cum-political party – agitating for Egyptian-style uprisings against Mugabe.
On Tuesday their lawyers applied for discharge at the close of the State case, arguing that prosecutors Lovack Masuku and Samuel Pedzisai had failed to prove a their clients had a case to answer.
Advocate Lucas Nkomo, representing Thomas and Siwela, argued that the court was obliged to return a "not guilty" verdict since the prosecutors had failed to present evidence on which a “reasonable court” could convict them.
He said the evidence of State witnesses was only centred on the arrest of the trio, items recovered during the arrest and messages on some of the items that were recovered.
Advocate Sabelo Sibanda who is representing Gazi agreed the evidence that the State was seeking to rely on was manifestly unreliable adding there were no grounds for putting his client to his defence.
But the prosecutors insisted that the essential elements of the offence had been proved adding that there was sufficient evidence on which a reasonable court, acting carefully, might properly convict.
They said the basis of the State case were the minutes of a meeting held by members of the Mthwakazi Liberation Front at the beginning of March last year were “an overt act was committed” followed by the distribution of fliers containing subversive material by Thomas two days later.
Probed by the court on why the State chose to prosecute two people out of nine that attended the March meeting the prosecutors said they chose to prosecute Gazi and Siwela because they had been found with the offending materials while others did not have them.
Justice Ndou indefinitely reserved judgement on the discharge application.