Zimbabwean chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni, who was serving an 18-month jail-term at Khami Prison, has been released by the High Court on $500 bail.
One of his lawyers, Professor Welshman Ncube, told reporters Wednesday in the country’s second largest city, Bulawayo, that judge Thomson Mabhikwa released Ndiweni and ordered him to stay at his home and report once a week at Ntabazinduna Police Station until his case is finalized.
In granting bail, Mabhikwa ruled that Chief Ndiweni’s appeal against both conviction and sentence would likely succeed and dismissed the state’s suggestion that he may abscond if released from prison.
Ndiweni was recently convicted by local magistrate Gladmore Mushowe for damaging a villager’s property worth $300 Zimbabwe dollars.
Mushowe sentenced Ndiweni to 24 months in jail and suspended six months of the sentence on condition of good behavior. Twenty-three of his subjects, who got a similar sentence, had their jail terms suspended on condition that they performed 525 hours of community service at local schools and hospitals.
A villager, Fetti Mbele, allegedly caught his wife Nonkangelo Mpengesi Mbele having sex with another man in their matrimonial home. The chief banished the woman from Sifelani village, Ntabazinduna, in Matabeleland North province, and when she refused to leave the area, he asked his subjects to evict the couple by getting rid of the fence surrounding the homestead and cattle kraal.
One of the key witnesses in the case was Zanu PF secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu.
Chief Ndiweni told the court that Mpofu was allegedly involved in the case after he filed a police complaint claiming that the politician stole his father’s 200 cattle. He claimed that the docket at Mbembesi Police Station disappeared.
Mpofu was unavailable for comment.