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Member of Parliament of Zimbabwe's MDC Acquitted on Rape Charge

  • Taurai Shava
  • Ntungamili Nkomo

A magistrate in Gweru, capital of Zimbabwe's Midlands province, on Tuesday acquitted House Member Blessing Chebundo of the Movement for Democratic Change formation led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of a charge of rape of a teenage girl.

Harare-based Magistrate William Bhila said the state had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt as evidence from some of its six witnesses was not credible.

VOA Studio 7 correspondent Taurai Shava reported from Gweru on the verdict.

Mr. Chebundo was the fourth legislator of the Tsvangirai MDC grouping to be acquitted in the past week of various charges. The others included Deputy Youth Minister Thamsanqa Mahlangu, MP Heya Shoko of Bikita West and Victoria Falls legislator Gift Mabhena.

Deputy Spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo of the Tsvangirai MDC told reporter Ntungamili Nkomo of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the acquittals provided further evidence that the many charges brought against MDC members have been fabricated.

Elsewhere, lawyers for the state and Tsvangirai MDC Treasurer Roy Bennett were in court on Tuesday discussing the law under which the former commercial farmer is being charged. His trial opened Monday but was adjourned while the judge considered motions.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu called the lawyers to his chambers to bring to their attention that Section 10 of the Public Order and Security Act, under which Bennett was charged, has since been struck off the statute books.

But the lawyers, who expected a ruling on motions from both sides on their opening statements on the case, said the section in question still applies because it was in force on the date of Bennett's alleged crime of possessing weapons for terrorism.

Bennett defender Beatrice Mtetwa told VOA's Studio 7 the judge instructed the lawyers to wait in court, but he never returned with a ruling. His clerk came to dismiss the lawyers, telling them to come back on Wednesday for his ruling on the applications.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...