By Bulawayo Correspondent
FIREBRAND Ntabazinduna traditional chief and fearless government critic Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni was Friday slapped with an 18 month jail term after having been found guilty of destroying a villager’s property.
However, 23 of his co-accused escaped with lesser sentences of 525 hours each of community service at Ntabazinduna clinic and two other primary schools in the area.
Magistrate Gladmore Mushove sentenced Ndiweni to 24 months imprisonment but suspended six months on condition that he does not commit a similar offence within that period.
Mushove on Thursday convicted the MDC ally and his 23 co-accused, who are also his subjects, for damaging Fetti Mbele’s property.
The humiliated traditional leader and his co-accused have been in custody at Khami Prison pending their sentence Friday.
The matter went on a full trial with a number of witnesses including Zanu PF Secretary for Administration Obert Mpofu testifying against him.
Representing the state, Kudakwashe Jaravaza told the court that Mbele of Ntabazinduna village was banished from the village by the chief in July 2017 after his wife Nonkangelo Mpengesi was allegedly caught having sex with another villager.
Chief Ndiweni ruled that Mbele and his “adulterous” wife should be banished from Sifeleni village, saying “prostitution” will not be tolerated in his area.
“On 2017 at around 4pm, Mbele and his wife arrived from Bulawayo to find some villagers outside their homestead,” Jaravaza had told court during trial.
“Kimpton Sibanda (72), a village head and two other villagers claimed they were ordered by Chief Ndiweni to destroy Mbele’s garden fence and kraal.
“Sibanda instructed the villagers to destroy the fence and kraal. At around 5pm, Chief Ndiweni arrived and ordered the villagers to continue destroying Mbele’s fence and kraal.”
The order followed Mbele’s alleged defiance of the chief’s verdict to divorce his wife.
Ndiweni had given a ruling that Mbele’s wife should vacate her husband’s home but she did not comply with the order since they had resolved the matter as a couple, prompting the chief to order the destruction of his fence and kraal.
In sending Ndiweni to prison, Mushowe said the offence was serious since fire was used to destroy the property.
“The accused one (Ndiweni) was is a chief and was supposed to uphold the rights of all their subjects. The chief was supposed to see that there is harmony and peace in the community,” said Mushowe.
The chief and the other accused were represented by Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Ncube and Law Chambers.
Ndiweni is famed for his open condemnation of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and support for western imposed sanctions on Zimbabwe.
In May this year, he openly endorsed Chamisa, saying the young politician deserved to be occupying Mnangagwa’s position after the incumbent had allegedly stolen his way to victory.
Ndiweni has also been a fearless voice against the marginalisation of Matebeleland by the Zanu PF led government since independence.
Chief Ndiweni pictured with MDC leader Nelson Chamisa and party officials at the main opposition’s Gweru elective congress in May this year.