Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Reporter
EXPELLED Zanu-PF Bulawayo Central district chairman Magura Magura Charumbira, who is suspected to be the ring leader of a clique of rowdy party supporters that booed the First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe during the Presidential Interface Rally at White City Stadium early this month, appeared in court yesterday.
Charumbira (43) of Pumula South suburb and his gang members allegedly sang and made gestures throwing hands in the air after the First Lady said Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo was being persecuted for nothing.
Charumbira appeared before Bulawayo provincial magistrate Ms Sharon Rosemani facing incitement to commit public violence and undermining the authority of the President charges.
He was remanded in custody to today pending ruling on his application for bail.
Charumbira, through his lawyers, Mr Christopher Dube of Dube-Banda, Nzarayapenga and Partners and Mr Tanaka Muganyi of Tanaka Law Chambers, said he was a proper candidate for bail. He argued that the State could not sustain its assertion that he was likely to abscond if granted bail.
Mr Dube said his client was innocent until proven guilty. He also argued that there was no basis upon which Charumbira was being denied bail.
“There is absolutely no basis to deny the accused person bail simply because he is likely to abscond yet he surrendered himself to the police. The contention that he will abscond is self-defeating on the part of the State and it would be grossly unfair to hold accused in custody on charges that cannot be sustained,” argued Mr Dube.
Mr Muganyi said the facts in the charge sheet were laced with a lot of contradictions.
“The accused is being accused of inciting public violence, but the State failed to indicate who he incited. The facts are contradictory because it is alleged that the accused person disrupted the rally yet he was removed from that gathering,” he said.
The State, which was being represented by Mr Jeremiah Mutsindikwa, opposed bail, arguing that if granted bail there was no guarantee that Charumbira would not abscond given that he has four other pending cases before the courts.
Mr Mutsindikwa said in the pending cases, Charumbira breached his bail conditions.
In May this year, Charumbira was allegedly stabbed in the head and face during intra-party clashes at the Zanu-PF Bulawayo provincial headquarters, Davies Hall, as two rival groups fought over control of the party offices. He was subsequently arrested following the violence.
“The State through the investigating officer has managed to put compelling reasons as to why accused should not be granted bail. His conduct has shown that accused person has no respect for the courts after failing to comply with his bail conditions in similar pending cases by not reporting to the Bulawayo’s CID Law and Order offices twice a week,” he said.
Charumbira argued that his failure to report to the police was due to an undisclosed ailment. A medical report was produced in court to support his argument, but the State was quick to dismiss it as fake.
Mr Mutsindikwa said Charumbira used the medical report to cover up for failing to abide by the bail conditions.
Prosecuting, Mr Mutsindikwa said on November 4 this year, Charumbira was part of a crowd that gathered at White City Stadium in Bulawayo for the Presidential Youth Interface rally.
The court heard that when the First Lady stood up to address people, Charumbira, a ring leader of a small group of supporters aligned to former Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, also stood up and started protesting and heckling the First Lady.
“The accused person started making gestures by throwing hands in the air and booing the First Lady. His colleagues joined him as they sang songs denouncing Dr Mugabe after she said Prof Moyo was being persecuted for nothing,” said Mr Mutsindikwa.
Charumbira and his group were whisked away by Zanu-PF youths after the First Lady complained that rogue elements were disrupting her speech.
Last Friday, four members of Charumbira’s alleged gang appeared in court charged with undermining the authority of the President and were each granted $50 bail.
Mabutho Lucky Moyo (32) of Lobengula, Mayibongwe Evans Zvigadza (28) of Barbourfields, Walter Sibanda (24) of Tshabalala and Dephine Dzvange (33) of Nketa 7 suburb are set to appear at Bulawayo Regional court on November 23 for trial.