The 18-month jail term imposed on Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni of Ntabazinduna for malicious damage to property has divided opinion among observers.
MDC-T vice president Obert Gutu, who is a lawyer by profession, said that crime is a crime regardless of who committed it. He said:
Regardless of one’s status in society, if you commit a criminal offence, you’re liable to prosecution. That is the very essence of the rule of law. Thus, if Ndiweni committed a criminal offence, quite honestly, why shouldn’t he be prosecuted?
Arson is a criminal offence, regardless of who commits it. There could be some reasonable argument pertaining to the severity of the punishment that was meted against Ndiweni after he was convicted but then, the proper course of action to take is for Ndiweni to lodge an appeal against sentence and at the same time, for him to apply for bail pending appeal.
However, Mbonisi Solomon Gumbo, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP) secretary for information said that the chief did not arrive at the judgement alone as it was a community resolution. He said:
It is not the chief’s sole discretion to make judgments, it is a community resolution. People must understand that the said Mbele voluntarily reported his wife’s adultery case after he caught her with an equally adulterous man who is their neighbour.
It boggles the mind then as to how did he change his mind and opted to then fight the chief and forgive his promiscuous wife?
No normal man on earth can do that unless of course, this said Mbele was influenced by the chief’s enemies as he stated in the court papers that Zanu PF secretary for administration is responsible for his persecution.
The courts do not arrest magistrates and judges on appeal of their ruling. So in my view, the sentence was too harsh and uncalled for.
The ruling on its own and sentencing of Ndiweni is a political move meant to undermine the Ndebele nation. It’s a ploy to intimidate and silence everyone in the region.