3 witnesses lined up for testfying in homesteads burning trial
THREE witnesses have been lined up to testify in a case of 10 Matshetsheni villagers accused of destroying and burning three homesteads belonging to suspected cattle rustlers.
The villagers, Peter Mlilo (58), Robert Mlilo (71), Milton Dube (56), Thabani Nkala (49), Amosi Nyoni (66), Ben Mlilo (74), Mgoli Moyo (71), Dan Ncube (62) and Desire Moyo (82), and Luka Ndlovu (84), all from Chief Masuku pleaded not guilty to public violence before Gwanda magistrate, Ms Sheila Nazombe yesterday.
The magistrate remanded them to Monday on $300 bail each.
In their defence, the villagers said they did not participate in the burning of the homesteads or public violence.
One of the State’s key witnesses, Ms Precious Noko, failed to identify the accused as the people who destroyed her homestead in the mayhem.
Ms Noko, whose husband Lovemore Moyo was accused of being the ring leader of cattle rustling and is on the run, failed to pinpoint who among the accused villagers destroyed her homestead.
“These villagers were part of the group which was at my homestead. I can’t say among them who exactly destroyed my home. I know of their ring leader but he’s not here in court. There were a lot of people and these accused persons were also there but I didn’t see them,” said Ms Noko.
She told the court that the villagers forced her to tell the media what they wanted her to say instead of the truth. “I told people from the newspapers what I was forced to say. The crowd forced me to tell them what they wanted me to tell the newspapers people,” she said without elaborating.
Allegations against the 10 villagers are that on June 1 this year, the villagers acting in concert with others who are still at large, mobilised themselves to destroy some homesteads at Insindi resettlement area.
They wanted to expel the owners who they accused of stealing their cattle.
Property worth about $12 000 was allegedly destroyed at the three homesteads. — @richardmuponde