FORMER night club manager Ronnie Ngwenya’s hopes of getting his conviction, and incarceration, quashed have been DASHED after the State withdrew its consent to bail pending appeal.
The State had earlier indicated that it would not oppose his bid for freedom after he approached the High Court seeking bail pending appeal.
“Please take notice that the Respondent (the State) does not support conviction in this case which has been set for hearing on 23 October 2023,” the State had indicated in papers filed three days earlier.
However, the State has now made an about turn and indicated that it seeks to oppose his appeal in a move which quashed Ngwenya’s hopes for immediate freedom.
Ngwenya was convicted of aggravated indecent assault of his teenage niece by Harare magistrate Fadzai Mtombeni, who cleared him of rape, in July and sentenced to 12 years.
Through his lawyer, Ngwenya is arguing that the claims made by his 13-year-old niece were pregnant with contradictions.
It’s the latest twist to a case, which has now dragged on for a year.
In June this year, a Harare magistrate recused himself from the trial and cited bickering, between the Ngwenya family, and that of the victim, as his reason for recusal.
“Information that I have received has made me recuse myself in the interests of justice,” said magistrate Clever Tsikwa.
“I shall not mention the full reasons, but this recusal is based on professional grounds.”
The trial was delayed three times because of the non-appearance of the family maid, Winnet Magobo, who was present at the time of the alleged offence.
She was later located, with the help of private investigators, and testified in the case.
Yesterday, Judges Happious Zhou and Benjamin Chikowero postponed the matter for the second time to November 13 to allow the State to file its heads of arguments.
The State proved its case by presenting a medical affidavit that showed that the teenager, who Ngwenya had taken care of since she was in Grade 1, was sexually abused.
Magistrate Mtombeni acquitted Ngwenya on two rape charges, but convicted him of the aggravated indecent assault charge and handed him a custodial sentence.
Ngwenya claims the magistrate misdirected herself in convicting and sentencing him and is arguing that the complainant led contradictory evidence on the identity of the person who abused her.