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War vets acquitted of murdering a white farmer

by Staff reporter
07 Apr 2013 at 05:17hrs | Views
War veterans Albert Ncube and Robert Nyathi, who were facing allegations of kidnapping and fatally shooting Nyamandlovu farmer Ms Elizabeth Gloria Olds, have been acquitted by the High Court in Bulawayo at the close of the State case.

The duo, who were delighted with the verdict in a long-running case that has dragged on for 12 years, left the court in tears after Justice Maphios Cheda found them innocent.

Their spouses also shed tears of joy. Scores of close relatives who were following proceedings rejoiced when Justice Cheda completed reading his 10-page judgment.

"After listening to all witnesses in this case and going through all the papers, I find that no reasonable court would, given the circumstances and facts at hand, arrive at a conviction.
"The State case is weak and it relies mostly on circumstantial evidence and there is absolutely nothing linking the accused persons to the commission of the alleged offences. I thus find them not guilty of kidnapping and murder," said Justice Cheda in part.

The case dragged on for 12 years owing to a variety of reasons ranging from the failure of key witnesses to turn up and three prosecutors handling their matter quitting their posts at the Attorney General's office.

The opposition Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has together with some right-wing British and American-funded non-governmental organisations like the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, claimed that the delay in solving the Ms Olds murder case was because of its "political nature."

No Zanu-PF official was either implicated or arrested in relation to the legal proceedings.

Because the Ms Olds murder occurred at the height of the fast-track land re-distribution programme, which was meant to address the racially skewed land ownership patterns, most right-wing and imperialist forces, media and megaphones have conveniently abused the gruesome murder for political gain.

Ms Olds' death came about a year after her son, Martin, was also murdered by unknown assailants at his Compensation Farm in Matabeleland province, in a case that was also said to be politically motivated, although no proof was made public by those who made the allegations.

It is alleged that on March 3, 2001 at Silver Stream Farm in Nyamandlovu, the accused persons wrongfully and unlawfully and intentionally applied force to the body of Mr Foster Moyo by causing him to be bound and secured to a tree for a period of two hours, thereby depriving him of his liberty and causing him injuries.

On the murder charge, it had been alleged that the two ex-combatants, on March 4, 2001 and at Silver Stream Farm in Nyamandlovu, had wrongfully, unlawfully and intentionally murdered farmer Elizabeth Gloria Olds.

Their lawyer, Mr Brighton Ndove of Marondedze, Mukuku, Ndove and Partners argued in his application for discharge made in terms of Section 198(3) of the Criminal Procedure and evidence Act (Chapter 9:07) that the State relied on circumstantial evidence and that "in the absence of direct evidence linking the accused persons to the offence" it would not be competent to find them guilty of either murder, culpable homicide, aggravated assault or assault.

This comes amid stunning revelations to the effect that Ms Olds might have been killed by cattle rustlers who intended to conceal their earlier crime. Ncube and Nyathi were initially implicated in the stocktheft case and later acquitted.

"That the ammunition of the firearm that was picked at the scene of this murder matches the cartridges of the ammunition that was picked at the scene where a bull had been killed in a stocktheft-related case wherein the accused persons herein were implicated, albeit later acquitted by the courts," argued the defence.

It also emerged that police details who handled the case, on numerous occasions flouted procedure with specific reference to handling the parade of suspects. The defense submitted that chances are very high that the identification parade was stage-managed in that witnesses might have seen the accused persons earlier.

Source - SM