By Tendai Rupapa
Former Zanu-PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere’s bid for freedom hit a brick wall yesterday after a Harare magistrate threw out his application for discharge at the close of the State case, saying he had a case to answer.
Kasukuwere is facing charges of skipping the border at the height of the military coup in November last year that led to former President Robert Mugabe resigning from office. Kasukuwere was arrested on his return from self imposed exile for allegedly violating immigration laws.
In dismissing the defence application for discharge at the close of the State case, Ms Josephine Sande said the former Minister had a case to answer and should be put to his defence.
“The State managed to prove a case that the accused person used an undesignated point of exit and the defence did not dispute that assertion,” said Ms Sande.
“As such, the Immigration Act does not support what the accused person did and it shows that he has a case to answer. The application is hereby dismissed and the matter should go to defence case.”
After the ruling, Kasukuwere was immediately put on the witness stand to give his evidence-in-chief.
He insisted his life was in danger when he left the country and qualified to have been given a refugee status in another country.
Kasukuwere said he was forced to escape following an attack on his house by unknown assailants.
He sought refuge in Mozambique.
The court then visited Kasukuwere’s up-market mansion at number 4 Deny’s Close Glen Lorne, Harare, for an inspection in-loco.
Kasukuwere took the court around his house showing them some holes on the precast wall, inside and outside the house which he said were as a result of gunshots.
He took out 113 empty cartridges of AK-47 rifles which he showed to the court, saying they were collected after the shooting.
After the inspection, the proceedings resumed at the magistrate’s court, with Kasukuwere pleading for an acquittal, saying his case of “border jumping” was exceptional as his life was in severe danger.
“Given the experiences of what we went through with my family, it is one of those occasions one would not want to remember,” he said. “The Lord played his part on that day and saved us.
“I was left with no option and from what the court saw at my house, the only available option was to leave my country. I did not have protection, so I had to escape.”
During cross-examination, Ms Mukumbiri questioned Kasukuwere if he knew the assailants.
He said he could not lay blame on anyone since he did not see them.
Ms Mukumbiri then asked: “What if they were armed robbers who wanted to steal cash from a Minister in that big mansion because you do not know your attackers?”
Kasukuwere said they were not robbers basing on the number of shots fired.
“What I know is that my life was in danger,” he said.
“It was all over the media that there was Operation Restore Legacy going on. They were targeting criminals around the former President and I was one of the targeted Ministers.”
Ms Mukumbiri said since Kasukuwere could not identify his attackers, he should have reported the matter to the police. “You came back on your own to Zimbabwe,” she said. “Are the attackers dead now and is your life not in danger now? If your life was really in danger, you would not have come back.”
Kasukuwere said Zimbabwe was his country and he had to return home to be with his family.
He said he did not care if the assailants were to pounce on him again.
The State said the fact that Kasukuwere did not register with the international board as a refugee was proof that his life was not in danger, adding that he visited all those countries as a tourist on site seeing not a refugee. “What happened at your house did not disturb the public,” said Ms Mukumbiri.
“There was no public disorder. It was your own problem and therefore you do not qualify to be exempted according to the law.”
In his closing submissions, Mr Samukange said if his client had gone through the border, he would have been dead by now. But prosecution pleaded for a conviction and punishment.
The court will deliver its verdict today. The Chronicle