Zanu-PF senior official accused of possessing mbanje
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Two police officers, Sergeant Last Matinha and Constable Linda Chakauya, who investigated the case, testified as State witnesses last Tuesday.
Ndebele is facing a charge of contravening Section 157 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act chapter 9:23 "possession of dagga".
The defence counsel from Phulu-Ncube Legal Practitioners told the court that the two police officers investigating the case were unreliable and unsatisfactory, suggesting that they might have had a hand in falsely implicating Ndebele in an effort to destroy her political career.
The case, which has been the talk of the otherwise quiet Nkayi centre for a month, has attracted interest in various quarters and saw people who include a number of Zanu-PF officials and supporters, relatives of the accused and villagers scramble to follow proceedings outside the makeshift court housed in one of the district administrator's offices.
Hordes of people jostled to follow proceedings from outside and stood by the door of the courtroom whose gallery can only accommodate five people with the rest of the place reserved for court officials and a couple of prison officers.
The trial started at around 10am and was adjourned for lunch and proceedings continued after lunch till close of business at 4pm.
The Zanu-PF activist was arrested last month after her school-going niece was allegedly found in possession of the drug.
The State, led by Mr Maxwell Hapanyengwi, told the court that on 15 June this year, a Form Three male student at Hlangabeza High School borrowed a satchel from Ndebele's niece to carry his books.
While in class, a plastic bag full of mbanje dropped from the satchel and was picked up by other students who informed the school authorities.
The student was later taken to Nkayi Police Station for investigations where he told the police that he found the dagga in the satchel belonging to Ndebele's niece. The quantity of the drug was not stated in court papers.
When police interrogated the girl, she said she had obtained the drug from her niece's bedroom while sweeping.
When police searched Ndebele's house, they recovered 100 grammes of loose dagga.
However, in her defence outline, the accused pleaded not guilty stating that she never knew the material in issue was dagga as she only allowed a night traveller, Mr Andrew Ncube, to leave his bag at her place as he indicated he was tired of carrying it around looking for a place to put up for the night.
"The conduct by the investigative officer in this matter is most regrettable, uncalled for and not in keeping with what is required of a law enforcer. It violets the rights of a fair trial that is constitutional and requires that this officer be investigated for unbecoming conduct, this happening comes after an initial complaint was made by this honourable court and it is quite unfortunate that these kinds of complaints keep cropping up," said Advocate Kucaca Phulu.
The defence counsel states that the police did not carry out their investigations properly arguing that the law enforcers cannot prove that Ndebele's niece (Samukeliso) was found in possession of mbanje, further stating that police's audacity to send Samukeliso home to change from her school uniform to ordinary clothing while leaving the other students that were being interrogated was suspicious.
The defence suggests that Samukeliso might have taken the opportunity to sneak into her aunt's bedroom and smuggle the drug in as she only arrived at the home after police officers had taken her aunt to the police station.
Ndebele's defence also claim that the police did not conduct their search thoroughly as they only collected the dagga which was in their client's cottage bedroom and never bothered to conduct a comprehensive search of the room but proceeded to search other main house rooms also leaving the main bedroom, raising suspicion that the law enforcers already knew that there was only one packet of mbanje.
Ndebele was granted US$100 bail and the trial is set to continue on 31 July.
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