via State bungles as Gushungo bombing suspect reneges on plea bargain – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 13, 2016
FOR the second time in as many weeks, yesterday, the prosecution department bungled yet another plea bargain with one of the accused charged with the foiled bombing attack on President Robert Mugabe’s Gushungo dairy plant last month.
Borman Ngwenya (30), a member of the Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) based at 1 Field Regiment at Cranborne Barracks, reneged on his plea bargain a few hours before appearing in court after hiring lawyers to defend him.
Ngwenya was jointly charged with Owen Kuchata for possession of weapons used for sabotage, banditry, insurgency or terrorism and money-laundering. Kuchata was this week on Monday convicted and sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty to the charges.
After some running around by the prosecution in trying to salvage the deal that failed, Ngwenya was finally remanded to March 1 by regional magistrate Temba Kuwanda.
Prosecutor Michael Reza said: “We seek remand of the accused to March 1, 2015.”
Interestingly, Ngwenya had initially been remanded to February 16 when he appeared before provincial magistrate Douglas Chikwekwe.
Both the State and defence, however, were mum on why Ngwenya came to court yesterday. But informed sources said it was a plea bargain which went awry.
“When Ngwenya asked to be brought to court, it was on the understanding that he wanted to plead guilty, but things took a sharp turn after he engaged defence lawyers for the first time since his arrest,” the source said.
“The defence wants to have a fully-fledged trial and this may take time to come as the State starts the process of lining up its witnesses and tie up the loose ends as the matter is now defended,” the source added.
Ngwenya and Kuchata were jointly charged with Solomon Makumbe and Silas Pfupa, who have had their charges withdrawn by the prosecution before plea.
The withdrawal of the charges for the duo led to the arrest of Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana on charges of criminal abuse of office as a public officer.
The quartet is set to appear on routine remand on Tuesday next week on fresh charges of treason.
Tomana will also appear in court on the same day.