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Ndiweni jumps bail, arrest warrant issued

by Staff reporter
20 Dec 2021 at 05:41hrs | Views
DETHRONED Ntabazinduna chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni has been declared a fugitive from justice after a Bulawayo magistrate issued a warrant of arrest against the ex-traditional leader and convicted criminal for violating his bail conditions, specifically not reporting to the police weekly, and he is thought to be now in Britain.

Ndiweni (58) ceased to be Ntabazinduna chief on November 30, 2019 after he was convicted in August 2019 of illegally ordering 23 villagers to destroy property belonging to a family that he had banished from his area.

He was sentenced to an effective 18 months in jail for this violation of human rights.

Aggrieved by the conviction and sentence, Ndiweni, through his lawyer Mr Dumisani Dube of Mathonsi Law Chambers, appealed at the High Court challenging the verdict of the lower court and the appeal is still pending.

He was, however, later released by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Thompson Mabhikwa on $500 bail pending appeal against both conviction and sentence.

But as part of the bail conditions, the judge ordered Ndiweni to report once a week on Fridays at ZRP Ntabazinduna and to reside at his given address until the matter is finalised.

He, however, defaulted and reportedly fled to the United Kingdom under the pretext of seeking medical attention.

Following his failure to adhere to the bail conditions, police applied for his warrant of arrest in terms of section 33 (1) of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act at the Bulawayo magistrate's court.

The magistrate Maxwell Ncube signed the arrest warrant last Thursday following an application by Inspector Josiah Mamhayo, the officer-in-charge of Mbembesi Police Station under whose jurisdiction Ntabazinduna falls.

In his application for a warrant of arrest, Inspector Mamhayo said there were reasonable grounds of suspicion that he violated his bail conditions by not reporting to the police station weekly.

Mr Ncube signed the warrant of arrest, which empowers police to apprehend Ndiweni upon seeing him.

Ndiweni is a known anti-Government activist who has openly declared support for the opposition MDC-Alliance. He has on numerous occasions been caught in active political moves outside the country.

A few weeks ago, his picture circulated on social media while standing outside the UK Prime Minister's official residence Number 10 Downing Street in London to petition British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to pressure President Mnangagwa to allow Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote in 2023.

Current legislation limits voting rights to Zimbabweans outside the country who are on official Government assignments although other registered voters outside the country must physically present themselves at their registered polling station to cast their vote.

In October, Ndiweni led a protest outside the British Parliament, urging the UK government to reverse an invitation to President Mnangagwa to attend the COP26 climate change conference held in Glasgow, Scotland.

To their utter dismay and embarrassment, President Mnangagwa managed to attend the global conference. The President also used his UK visit to mount a diplomatic offensive aimed at strengthening the re-engagement drive while calling for the removal of sanctions.

He met several world leaders, including the United States President Joe Biden, Mr Johnson, Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, President of the European Union Council Charles Michel among other global leaders.

It was the first time for a Zimbabwean leader to visit the UK after relations between the two nations were strained after Zimbabwe embarked on the corrective Land Reform Programme in the early 2000s.

Two years ago, Ndiweni sensationally appealed to the international community to escalate sanctions on President Mnangagwa's Government, claiming it has failed to pursue democracy.

In 2017, he allowed one political party to hold a rally in his area against police decision barring the party to proceed with the rally in Ntabazinduna because the police did not have enough manpower.

Ndiweni also had a stand-off with the then Umguza MP Obert Mpofu accusing him of meddling in his and other chiefs' affairs.

In 2018, he took the Chiefs Council President Chief Fortune Charumbira and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to court seeking nullification of provincial assembly and national chiefs' council election results held in 2017, arguing that the whole process was marred with irregularities. This failed.

Source - The Herald