Ndiweni bail hearing: State claims keep traditional leader in jail

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

THE bail application by incarcerated Ntabazinduna Chief, Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni failed to take off Tuesday after the State indicated that it had not been served with the Magistrates’ Court record of proceedings in time.

Bulawayo High Court Judge, Thompson Mabhikwa was set to hear Ndiweni’s bail application on Tuesday after the State, represented by Kudakwashe Jaravaza, claimed he had only been served a few hours earlier.

“The State wrote correspondents to the applicant’s lawyers requesting the transcribed record. We were only served with record at 10 am today (Tuesday). We did not have adequate time to go over the record in order to respond to the application,” Jaravaza told the court.

Ndiweni’s lawyers, led by professor Welshman Ncube from Mathonsi Ncube law chambers, insisted that they had filed and served the State with the notice of application on the 21st of August this year.

“My Lord, the State has been aware of this application which is in terms of the law as a matter of urgency. Applicant was sentenced almost two weeks ago and we have sought that record almost every day.

“The record was only availed to us on Monday after the close of business and that is why we served the State this morning,” said professor Ncube.

Justice Mabhikwa ordered the State to file its opposing papers by close of business Tuesday.

The bail application hearing will now resume on Wednesday at 10 am.

Bulawayo Magistrate, Gladmore Mushove two weeks sentenced Ndiweni to 18 months in prison for damaging one of his subjects, Fetti Mbele’s homestead.

His other 23 co-accused villagers were sentenced to 525 hours of community service each.

Ndiweni’s lawyers have appealed Mushove’s ruling before the High Court for both conviction and sentence of the traditional leader and his co-23 accused villagers.

According to court papers filed by the Ndebele paramount Chief’s lawyers, Ndiweni wants the upper court to set aside both the conviction and sentence.

“The court a quo erred in finding that there were aggravating circumstances as no evidence was led to show that fire was used and that the Acts used to enforce the order of the court was only but a tool and not a weapon as alleged by the court,” reads part of the Ndiweni ‘s appeal papers.

Ndiweni further argues that the Ndebele culture allowed traditional leaders to banish any subject convicted of a customary offence.

“The court a quo erred in failing to appreciate that Ndebele culture and customary law empowered the 1st appellant (Ndiweni) to banish out of his jurisdiction any subject convicted of a customary offence,” argues the traditional leader through his lawyers.

Mbele of Ntabazinduna was banished from the village by the chief after his wife, Nonkangelo Mpengesi was allegedly caught having sex with another villager.

The chief ruled that Mbele should divorce his wife because of her alleged adulterous affair.

Mbele refused to divorce his wife resulting in his banishment from Sifelani village leading to the offence which the chief and the villagers are being accused of.