MDC man in court over weapon theft

mdc_logoHARARE - A transport manager in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party was thrown in jail on Saturday, accused of stealing 20 AK-47 rifles from Pomona Army Barracks in Harare and receiving military training in Uganda 10 years ago.

Pascal Gwezere, a former policeman, was abducted from his home in Mufakose by gun-toting hit-squads last week Tuesday and held incommunicado. During this time he was viciously tortured. ‘Between Tuesday and Saturday he was blindfolded, being moved constantly from one place to another, and thoroughly assaulted by police and other state agents,’ said lawyer Alec Muchadehama.

Limping into court

He limped into court on Saturday, with the State opposing bail and also opposing calls that he sees a doctor. His lawyers have since lodged papers demanding that he gets access to a private doctor of his choice. His whole body is swollen. His left leg is in a terrible state, he bled from it for two days, said Muchadehama. He cannot walk properly. We are trying to get him to be seen by a private doctor, but the state is preventing us. Gwezere is being charged with contravening Section 131 of the Criminal Law Act for allegedly stealing the 20 AK47 riles and a shot gun. He is also facing charges which prohibit unlawful training. The State has further accused him of contravening Section 22(1) of the Law and order Maintenance Act which prohibits quasi-military organisations.

Gwezere, together with a woman only identified as Getrude, and army officers which the State claims are still at large, have been accused of raiding an Engineers Support Regiment Armoury on the evening of October 20. Gwezere is further accused of undergoing military training at Soroti Training Camp in Northern Uganda between July 31, 1999 and October 13, 1999 together with Ernest Chihombori, Matthew Musokeri and Thandiwe, described as an MDC activist in court papers. Gwezere and his co-accused have been accused of planning to use the military training to destabilise the government upon their return.

Refused bail

Gwezere was refused bail on the basis that he was likely to abscond. The State further argued that the firearms had not been recovered and therefore the accused could dispose of the weapons if released. The star witness in the States case is 41-year-old Last Ngwenya, a Central Intelligence Organisation operative stationed in the President’s Office, who claims he got wind of the plot to steal weapons by Gwezere. He claimed in his affidavit that Gwezere held a meeting with other soldiers in the Harare Gardens where they arranged vehicles to ferry the stolen weapons from the scene. Lawyers involved in the case have said that Gwezere was facing trumped up charges.

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