Mutare Bureau

BUSINESSMAN Isau Mupfumi has a pending medical operation in Dubai on Saturday and this could have swayed his application for bail, which he was granted, yesterday.

Mupfumi was among scores of people who were arrested at the weekend, after violent clashes by touts at the city’s bus ranks.

He was granted US$1 000 bail yesterday by Mutare provincial magistrate, Mr Tendai Mahwe.

However, 49 touts, were denied bail.

Mupfumi will return to court on June 18.

As part of his bail conditions, Mupfumi was ordered to continue residing at his current address, not to interfere with State witnesses or investigations, and report weekly to the ZRP CID Mutare starting on Saturday.

His lawyer, Mr Victor Chinzamba of Mugadza, Chinzamba and Partners, applied for bail citing Mupfumi’s hypertension condition and upcoming medical operation in Dubai on Saturday.

The State, led by Tirivanhu Mutyasira, did not oppose bail on Mupfumi.

The police have been widely commended for their swift reaction and detaining all the suspects, irrespective of their status in society, which is sending a powerful message to other would-be offenders.

Many commentators say this was important to ensure the deadly taxi wars, which have become a part of the industry in South Africa, do not unfold in this country.

According to the State’s case, Mupfumi’s senior rank marshal, Farai Chitsa, was allegedly attacked by rank marshals from other bus companies, on Monday last week.

Mupfumi allegedly ordered his marshals to retaliate.

On Wednesday, 23, a group of Mupfumi’s rank marshals allegedly drove to Harare Old Rank in Mutare in two commuter omnibuses.

They attacked marshals from other companies with machetes, sjamboks, sticks and knives.

“One of the commuter omnibuses, a Toyota Hiace, Registration Number AFB2518, was being driven by Michael Chinogara.

“The other commuter omnibus, a Toyota Quantum belonging to Mupfumi, was being driven by his worker only known as Ndemera.

“The Mupfumi Buses rank marshals disembarked and attacked rank marshals belonging to other bus companies with machetes, sjamboks, sticks and knives at Harare Old Rank, Mutare,” said Mutyasira.

Police officers fired warning shots to disperse the crowd and seven marshals were arrested.

Machetes and stones were recovered from the commuter omnibus.

The next day, Mupfumi’s marshals clashed with marshals from other companies at Murahwa People’s Green Market in Sakubva, and when police officers arrived, they allegedly fled to Mupfumi’s garage.

A total of 11 marshals were arrested at Mupfumi’s garage.

“On May 24, Mupfumi’s rank marshals proceeded to fight with rank marshals belonging to other bus companies at Murahwa People’s Green Market in Mutare.

“When police arrived, the rank marshals fled from the crime scene and took refuge at Mupfumi’s garage.

“Police, who were in pursuit, arrested 11 rank marshals at the garage,” said Mutyasira.

The 49 rank marshals were all denied bail.

Mutyasira opposed bail, stating that the accused people were likely to interfere with witnesses.

“If the accused people are released, they are likely not to stand trial. The offence that they are being accused of is very serious and upon conviction, they face a lengthy jail term.

“If they are released, the witnesses are likely to refuse to cooperate, fearing the accused persons’ revenge acts.

“If the accused people are released, it is likely to jeopardise the proper function of the criminal justice delivery system. It is also important to note that investigations are still in progress.

“It is, therefore, the State’s prayer to remand the accused persons in custody pending trial,” said Mutyasira.

Magistrate Mahwe said the offences were committed in broad light, and they were all arrested while committing the offences.

“The State case is strong against all of you because you were arrested while committing the offences. It is in the interest of justice not to release you.

“Also, the magnitude of the violence as indicated can threaten the witnesses involved in this matter.”

The magistrate said releasing the suspects would cause a public outcry on the justice delivery system.

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