Former Minister Biti apologises for assaulting foreign investor, awaits sentencing

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By Staff Reporter

Former Finance minister, Tendai Biti, convicted for verbally assaulting a Russian investor Tatiana Aleshina on Monday has apologised.

During mitigation Biti told Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti that he didn’t mean to hurt Aleshina and was genuinely sorry for what happened.

He was convicted of calling Aleshina a stupid idiot at Harare magistrates court in 2020.

Biti said this issue was blown out proportion and will not happen again.

“The accused is genuinely sorry about the incident,” said his lawyer Alec Muchadehama.

Muchadehama said he could have apologised earlier but was afraid of interfering with a case that was already before the court.

“What happened is unlikely to occur again. Accused has no appetite to engage in that conduct again. He knows what will happen if this sorry case happens again.”

“He is not a threat to the complainant. Calling Biti a huge gigantic person as she did is actually an insult especially when looking at Biti. So he was also insulted. So the complainant now has hit back but the accused makes no offence of that. My submission is that its not necessary to protect the complainant in this case.

“The accused had no intention to harm the complainant, he is genuinely sorry, the matter was blown out of proportion.

“There was no physical assault, accused is not a violent person and what happened is likely not to happen again.”

Biti said he is a father of five adding that three of his children are in university abroad.

He also said he takes care of his elderly mother and supports orphans and widows in his former constituency, Harare East.

Biti also said he runs a lawfirm and piggery business with over 40 employees depending on him.

The top lawyer said his mother is diabetic and hypertensive and requires constant medication.

Tafara Chirambira for the State said despite personal circumstances other factors should be considered inncluding previous convictions.

“The issue that he is a legal practitioner places him in a situation where he has an ethical duty to respect the law. The offence was committed in the corridors of the magistrates courts. The state implores the court to consider that in coming with its sentence.

“The previous conviction certificate placed before the court is for the court to note.

“This shows this is not the first time the accused has been convicted for an offence before this court.

“The court cannot ignore that submission. That submission was made with no objection.

“The court should also consider the victim. The complainant is a female aged 54. If we go to sec 8 of the Constitution.  It recognizes the fee specie as protected in this country.

“They should be treated to full and equal dignity. The intention of legislature is very clear.

“The court should take into cognisance that she was a 54 year old specially protected specie,” he submitted.

Chirambira said everyone is equal before the court.

“The complainant deserves equal protection. She has no all that flowery background. She is not a lawyer. She has not spoken before a global forum. Before this court is an accused convicted of assault. So the court should be guided by the law.”

The complainant has suffered during the trial.

“A fine will not meet the justice of the crime.His mitigation shows he is a man of means and therefore a financial punishment will not be painful to him. The court is well within its rights to consider community service. Imposing a fine on a person who will not feel it as a punishment will be a waste of time.

“Would it be just for the court to say, okay pay another fine when he was fined five years ago. Suffice to say, the penalty for the offence starts from a fine to imprisonment, state respectfully submit that a fine is too trivial.”

Sentencing is on at 3pm.