Mashudu Netsianda, Senior Court Reporter
A JAILED hooligan who broke into a butchery and looted meat worth more than $14 000 before loading it into his car during the January violent protests, has approached the High Court seeking bail pending appeal.
Victor Sibanda of Nkulumane suburb in Bulawayo was part of a group of hooligans that looted shops during the protests. He was convicted of public violence and unlawful entry by Bulawayo magistrate Mr Tinashe Tashaya who sentenced him to five years in jail which he is serving at Khami Prison.
Sibanda, through his lawyers Tanaka Law Chambers, has filed an application for bail pending appeal at the Bulawayo High Court citing the State as a respondent.
In his bail statement, Sibanda said he was convicted on the basis that the car he was driving on that particular day had earlier on been spotted being loaded with meat at Empire Butchery in Nkulumane suburb.
He argued that the magistrate ignored the manner in which the number plates were obtained and contradictory evidence from both the complainant and State witnesses. Sibanda said some of the State witnesses were not credible as their oral evidence contradicted with their statements.
“The State case was full of inconsistencies as all statements by witnesses differ materially with one of them changing the version in court to an eye witness who saw the applicant,” he said.
Sibanda said the magistrate erred by stating that he did not raise the defence of alibi, but only so during the defence case. He said his appeal had prospects of success.
“It is very clear that a different court is more likely to overturn the conviction and sentence as no reasonable court could have relied on manifestly unreliable evidence. Nothing was recovered from the applicant to show or suggest he was at the shops and that he stole the meat. The appeal has high prospects of success,” said Sibanda.
In his notice of appeal against both conviction and sentence, Sibanda said the magistrate misdirected himself by convicting him on the charge of public violence when all witness evidence suggested that he only stole meat from the butchery.
He said the magistrate erred by accepting and giving weight to his motor vehicle registration number, which was not obtained at the scene of the crime during looting, but after a visit to his house by the complainant’s friends masquerading as police officers.
He argued that by virtue of a wrongful conviction, the sentence must subsequently fall away.
Sibanda also dismissed the State assertion that if released on bail pending appeal, he was likely to abscond or interfere with State witnesses.
“There is not even a remote possibility of danger to the administration of justice should the applicant be released on bail,” he said.
Sibanda offered to pay $300 bail and to reside at his given address until the matter is finalised and abide by any other conditions the court deem necessary.
According to court papers, Sibanda was part of a group of protesters who broke into Empire Butchery in Nkulumane suburb on January 15 and stole meat. He loaded the loot into his car, a Honda CRV and sped off.
He was arrested following police investigations. — @mashnets