BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
A Zimbabwe National Army official from the artillery division, Fungai Previous Makoni, who was named as the source of the army uniform which was used by a Zanu PF youth to terrorise residents during the January protests, has linked the suspect to a former deputy minister.
Fungai Previous Makoni, who was testifying before magistrate Obedience Matare, said the accused Shepherd Magorimbo is a Zanu PF youth and was former Finance deputy minister Terrence Mukupe’s bodyguard.
Makoni said he could not be the source of the uniform since his army fatigues were inscribed with his name.
He said Magorimbo must tell the court the truth as to where he got the uniform since he was moving around with the former deputy minister.
Magorimbo, who once disclosed to court officials that he got the army camouflage from Zanu PF headquarters, later named Makoni as the source of the uniform.
Makoni told the court that Magorimbo was recorded on closed-circuit television (CCTV) at Glen View Engen Service Station and at Mutangadura Butchery in Ruwa while wearing the army uniform.
The soldier, who was summoned to court by Magorimbo’s lawyer Blessing Mupwanyiwa as a defence witness after his name was mentioned, told magistrate Matare that the defence had tried to trick him into admitting that he gave the suspect the uniform.
Mupwanyiwa suggested that Makoni gave Magorimbo the uniform as they were friends. However, the soldier said he only knew the suspect from drinking spots.
“I didn’t know that Magorimbo was in the habit of wearing camouflage,” he said.
“I only know him as a Zanu PF youth working for former deputy minister Terrence Mukupe as a bodyguard.
“I once saw him at Mukupe’s office in the central business district.
“He must tell the court the truth about where he got that uniform from.
“The uniform he was found wearing is not mine.
“After my name was mentioned, my superiors went to my locker at work and found out that my uniform was complete.
“He must tell the court the truth about where he got that uniform. I am not the one who gave him.”
Makoni said there was no way he would give his uniform to someone else because it is signed for when collecting and also inspected every Monday.
Mupwanyiwa then told Makoni that he feared a backlash from his employer after he gave Magorimbo the uniform and Makoni insisted that he had nothing to do with the uniform.
In his defence, Magorimbo also told the court that he used to stay in the same house with Makoni, a claim dismissed by the soldier.
Matare will deliver the judgement on July 2.
Magorimbo made headlines when he confessed in the prosecutors at a vetting that he was given the army uniform at the Zanu PF headquarters.
That was before he hired a lawyer who helped him to prepare another defence denying the allegations.
One of Magorimbo’s pictures where he was clad in army uniform went viral on social media after his arrest in January.
Police and the military claimed in the aftermath of the protests that rogue soldiers were responsible for the fatal shooting of protesters during the demonstrations.
They also claimed that their uniforms were stolen and were used to commit offences by criminals. But the army later said police investigations had shown that deserters and bogus soldiers were responsible for the killings.