By Prince Tongogara
Incarcerated Zanu(PF) Harare provincial youth chairperson Godwin Gomwe on Tuesday told Regional Magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe that the three extortion charges against were ‘political smear campaign’ by his rivals in the party who seek to have deposed.
Gomwe and six other accused persons are facing three counts of extortion involving $46 000 using First Lady Grace Mugabe’s name to swindle housing cooperatives of their money as protection or facilitation fees.
Gomwe through his lawyer John Ndomene made the claims before Chikwekwe at his ongoing bail hearing. The state through Regional Prosecutor Michael Reza is urging the court to deny the accused bail saying they are unsuitable candidates because of their propensity to commit crimes.
“This is a political smear campaign. There is always the mentioning of the term Gammatox throughout the state papers which carry the charges against my client,” Ndomene said.
Gammatox is a term that has political connotations referring to all people aligned to ousted Vice President Joice Mujuru and her allies.
Gomwe is jointly charged with Muchinerepi Mpindu, Fidelis Ndaradza, Humphrey Madenyika, Haruwandi Munyaviri, Norah Torongo and Josephine Hadziende on all three counts.
They were all remanded in prison while their bail hearing continues.
Reza had earlier told the court that Gomwe was not suitable candidate for bail because he had ‘suicidal tendencies.
“The first accused (Gomwe) is suicidal and was only disarmed by an army officer in Makuti when he tried to shoot himself with a pistol. He was also found with rat poison. These two items are being held by police as exhibits,” Reza claimed.
He added, “I believe it is the duty of the court to protect people even from themselves. This is a crime for which no-one should lose their life.”
However, Gomwe’s lawyer John Ndomene argued that the state prosecutor was deliberately lying to have the accused stay behind bars.
“The state papers claim that my client is 34 yet he is in fact 37. Can we truly believe the state when they lie about small things,” Ndomene said.
“It’s malicious to say he (Gomwe) has suicidal tendencies. My learned brother (Reza) is not a medical practitioner nor did they call any medical doctor to testify about my client’s psychological condition.” He added.
The defence argued that if the court was amenable to their arguments the accused should be released on bail of $50, to hand over their travel documents to the clerk of court, reside at their given addresses and not to interfere with state witnesses.
Gomwe handed himself to the police on Sunday in the company of his lawyer.
If convicted Gomwe and his co-accused face a maximum sentence of 15 years behind bars.
Chikwekwe reserved judgment on the bail application to Wednesday morning.