Hurungwe West Member of Parliament, Temba Mliswa, was on Wednesday granted bail by a Chinhoyi magistrate in a case in which he is accused of theft of firearms.The former chairperson of ZANU-PF Mashonaland West Province was arrested last Saturday and appeared before Chinhoyi magistrate Ignatius Mugova on Monday where prosecutor Herald Matura charged him with theft of eight rifles said to have been found stashed in a trench at his Spring Farm fowl run.
Mliswa whose bail bid was initially not successful on Tuesday, when his lawyers turned up hours late for the bail hearing, was granted US$200 bail yesterday morning.
The firebrand politician was given bail conditions which included residing at his Borrowdale house and not, for six months, set foot at his Karoi farm where the firearms were found and where, prosecution feared he would interfere with witnesses and compromise investigations into his case.
Mliswa was also ordered to surrender his passport.
“We are done, Mliswa was granted bail,” his lawyer, Musindo Hungwe, told the Financial Gazette. “The arguments presented by the State were not sufficient enough to make a compelling case to deny him bail.”
Mliswa was accused of stealing from Summerhill Farm in Mhangura in 2007 firearms which included a 303 rifle, Patrone .22 rifle, Kal .22 I.F.B rifle, BSA 7.57mm rifle, K217.62mm rifle, .458 Witworth Express rifle, Vanguard 12 Bore shotgun and a 12 Bore double barrel shotgun.The State claims the guns belonged to then farm owner Myles Walter Hall.
The prosecutor had opposed bail saying Mliswa could interfere with witnesses since one of them was his worker at the farm.
Police also needed to recover five other firearms at Mliswa’s farm, while time was needed to send the recovered firearms to the Ballistics Unit for testing to establish whether they had not been used to commit a crime.
The defence said there was nothing in the State’s papers to show how the crime was committed. They also dismissed the case for not having a complainant.
Mliswa’s lawyers’ argument for bail was that with property worth a net value of US$3,5 million, being a legislator, the nature of the case which they felt was weak as well as being a family man, the legislator was not a flight risk.
“He was a prime candidate for bail,” Hungwe said.
This is not the first time Mliswa has had brushes with the law. In 2010, he was arrested on allegations of extorting US$1 600 from relatives of his two employees and the theft of 56 cattle in Karoi.
In the same year, Mliswa along with Martin Mutasa and George Marere spent weeks in prison after being arrested on charges of fraud involving US$1,05 million.
The three were alleged to have defrauded one, Paul Westwood of his 50 percent shares in Noshio Motors, a registered car dealer company jointly owned by Westwood and Hammarskjöld Banda and his wife Brendaly.
Mliswa was detained at Matapi police station in Mbare.
After release on bail, Mliswa was re-arrested and charged for crimes dating back to 2002, which included cases of assault and common assault, theft, public violence, contempt of court, extortion, malicious damage to property, Shop Licences Act violation, Firearms Act violation and housebreaking.
Mliswa and his co-accused were acquitted of the Noshio case in June 2011.
In 2013, Mliswa was arrested after fracas which saw Hurungwe East legislator Sarah Mahoka injured in an attack by youths while trying to address a meeting at a business centre in her constituency.
Other cases were also dropped in various other circumstances including state witnesses denying ever reporting Mliswa to the police.Fingaz