State witness exonerates Mugabe’s son-in-law

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By Mary Taruvinga

A POLICE officer who was called in to testify against, former President Robert Mugabe’s son-in-law Simbarashe Chikore on charges of unlawful detention, has instead exonerated the former Air Zimbabwe chief operating officer.

Chikore is accused of unlawfully detaining former Zim-Airways secretary, Betha Zakeyo at the company premises in Chishawasha Hills some time last year after taking a decision to terminate her employment.

He is being tried together with company security guard Simbarashe Mutimbe.

In a move that could have left prosecutors with egg on their face, the police officer, Alwin Tichaona Tigere defended Chikore claiming Zakeyo stayed at the premises after being dismissed at her own volition.

Tigere said when he and another police officer were called to the scene, they asked Zakeyo to leave but she refused arguing she was waiting for the arrival of an identified local tabloid news team.

“We called to the scene because the accused told us he wanted to avoid unnecessary drama. We were told the complainant was refusing to surrender company gadgets she was using and that she had indicated she would only surrender them to the police,” the police officer said.

“When we arrived, the complainant was never detained. She had the freedom she wanted. She was having tea when we arrived and during lunch, she served herself food.”

Zakeyo told court that she was cornered in her office by six men who deprived her of her liberty.

But Tigere argued there were only two security officers in her office.

“The other four men were at the reception,” he said.

Tigere also told court that when the police asked for the gadgets, Zakeyo refused to surrender them saying she now wanted to do so at the station.

After he finished his testimony the state asked for a postponement saying it was hunting down a witness, Harare lawyer Philipa Philips.

Prosecutor Mirirai Shumba said the lawyer is a key witness considering she was the first person to be informed of the incident by the complainant.

However, Philips recently wrote to the prosecutors declining to testify against Chikore.

Philips said she cannot testify against Chikore since they have a professional relationship adding it would be in breach of ethics.

Harare magistrate Victoria Mashamba however warned the state that it risks collapsing its case by failing to subpoena its witnesses.

Chikore who is being represented by his attorney Jonathan Samkange is denying the allegations saying they were fabricated. Case will continue on March 27.