FORMER Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere has challenged the State to open criminal dockets against all war veterans who skipped the country through illegal crossing points during the liberation war.
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The former Cabinet minister made the remarks yesterday when he appeared before Harare magistrate Josephine Sande facing allegations of skipping the country’s borders following former President Robert Mugabe’s ouster last November.
Kasukuwere, through his lawyer Jonathan Samukange, denied the charge, saying if the State insisted on charging him for illegally exiting the country, then all former combatants who left the country to execute the liberate war should also be charged for contravening sections of the Immigration Act.
Samkange said his client’s case was no different to a war situation because he escaped following gunfire attacks at his house.
“The accused left the country seeking refuge in another country after he escaped the attack by the army on his residence using AK-47 riffles. He is exempted from that Immigration Act because he fled disturbances,” Samukange said.
However, State witness and principal immigration officer Godfrey Kondo claimed Kasukuwere was not regarded as a political refugee in South Africa, but enjoyed the status of a diplomat.
Kondo said Kasukuwere should have brought before the court documents or evidence to show he applied for asylum in the neighbouring country.
He also dismissed claims that Kasukuwere’s life was under threat, saying the former Zanu PF political commissar just panicked when he saw large groups of people marching in the city celebrating Mugabe’s departure.
But Samukange insisted that his client was under threat.
“Certain officials from the army said they were targeting criminals around Mugabe. Do you know some of the criminals around Mugabe who were targeted by the army?” Samukange asked.
Kondo said he did not know the said criminals.
“An intelligent person like you, you do not know the said criminals around Mugabe. Be honest with the court, you swear before the court that you will speak the truth and nothing else,” Samukange said before he applied for discharge, saying the State had failed to prove a prima facie case against his client.
Sande said she would today make a ruling on the application.-Newsday