COURT: Kasukuwere says life was in danger, denies border jumper charges

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By Court Reporter

THE trial of Saviour Kasukuwere on charges of illegally skipping the country started in Harare Monday with the former cabinet minister denying the allegations saying his case was exceptional as his life was in danger.

The once-powerful politician was one of the cabinet ministers who escaped into exile after the November 15 military revolt which toppled then president Robert Mugabe.

Kasukuwere, who returned home last month, appeared before magistrate Josephine Sande facing charges of contravening the Immigration Act.

He will know his fate Tuesday when the magistrate delivers her ruling.

Denying the charges, Kasukuwere said, on the night November 15 last year, he was attacked at his home by unknown people who had guns, adding he was convinced that they were not robbers.

“It was clear the targeted person was the accused,” said his lawyer Jonathan Samukange of Venturas and Samukange Legal Practitioners.

As the military took to the streets, Generals went on television to announce that they were not taking over power but targeting “criminals around Mugabe”.

The ‘criminals’ were accused of exploiting the 93-year-old Mugabe’s advanced age to cause political and economic mayhem in the country.

Defence lawyer Samkange told court Monday that his client was one of those targeted by the military operation.

“My client had privileges which accompanied his position in the government at the time,” said the attorney.

“He also had a diplomatic passport and the court should take judicial notice why my client had to abandon all the benefits he had and risked his life with wild animals while trying to exit the country.

“According to the Refugees Act, my client noticed that his life was in danger due to the events that took place on November 15 and he fled as a refuge.”

However, prosecutor Francesca Mukumbiri insisted that Kasukuwere should have followed normal legal processes when exiting the country.

“On November 15, people marched while celebrating and there was no public disorder. Kasukuwere has to prove that he was attacked at his home and to prove that he also qualified to be a refuge,” said the prosecutor.

Magistrate Sande remanded the matter to Tuesday for ruling.