Mahlangu application dismissed

thamsanqa_mahlanguHARARE - Harare magistrate, Kudakwashe Jarabini on Monday dismissed an application by Youth and Indigenisation Deputy Minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu to have his theft of cellphone charges discharged before he could be put to his defence.

Mahlangu, through his lawyer Charles Kwaramba, argued that there was lack of incriminating evidence against him and his co-accused. The MDC youth leader is being accused, together with his personal assistant Malvern Chadamoyo, of stealing a Nokia 2310 phone valued at US$40 from self-styled war veteran, Joseph Chinotimba in July this year.

The application for discharge also covered two Hwange based women, Geraldine Phiri (21), alleged to be a girlfriend to Mahlangu and Patience Nyoni (27), her friend, who are also being charged for unlawfully using Chinotimba’s “stolen” simcard. In his ruling, Jarabini said the evidence submitted so far against Mahlangu and his co-accused was sufficient to place them to their defence.

The trial continues Monday next week during which the embattled lawmaker will start testifying in the matter. His trial, which commenced in August, resumed on Monday last week during which four other witnesses who included Youth Minister Saviour Kasukuwere were asked to testify in the matter.

At the close of the State’s case, seven witnesses had testified. The defence on Wednesday filed an application for discharge before the accused could be placed on their defence.

In his submissions, Kwaramba argued that the evidence that had been presented to court by the state witnesses at the close of the state’s case on Tuesday did not suffice to build a strong case against his clients. Kwaramba further said the witnesses in the matter had given conflicting testimonies rendering it unnecessary at law to ask his clients to defend themselves.

He said evidence submitted so far further pointed to a case where Mahlangu was found with stolen property, itself a different offence, as opposed to the alleged theft case. But the state, represented by Emmanuel Muchenga was adamant Mahlangu had clear intentions to steal Chinotimba’s phone. He argued that Mahlangu only surrendered the phone after hearing that Phiri and Nyoni had been arrested for using the sim-card.

He further said the courts should avoid the temptation of absolving senior government officials from any wrong doing in clear cases of the latter having committed crimes. Mahlangu and Chinotimba were part of a conference which was called by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara on July 17 this year to craft Zimbabwe’s Vision 2040 plan. Police say during a lunch break, Chinotimba stood up to get some food and left his phone on the table which was also occupied by Mahlangu.

During the conference at the HICC, it is alleged, pleas by the master of ceremony for the phone to be returned were not answered and Chinotimba made a report to the police. With the help of a network provider, detectives tracked down the sim-card to the Hwange based Phiri. Following her arrest, Phiri implicated Mahlangu whom she claimed was her boyfriend. She told police Mahlangu removed the sim card from the phone and dumped it in a bin at their shared hotel room at Harare’s Crown Plaza Monomotapa Hotel.

She later picked it up from the bin and began using it – unaware it belonged to Chinotimba.

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