Lovemore Kadzura Rusape Correspondent
THE ringleader of the MDC Alliance organised violent protests in Rusape – Joe Nyasha Katope – was last week convicted of public violence and sentenced to three years in jail. The convict will, however, serve two years in jail after Rusape magistrate Mr Shane Kubonera set aside one year on condition of good behaviour.
Katope (31), of VE 55, Vengere, Rusape became the third person to be convicted by Mr Kubonera over the MDC-Alliance engineered violent protests.
The other two are Achford Chari (26) and Leonard Rebanewako (26), all of Vengere, Rusape, who were nabbed barricading the Mutare-Harare highway with burning tyres and tree branches on January 15, 2019.
Katope, who is employed as a security guard, and two other suspects – Boomers and Maone – who are still fugitives from justice, led hundreds of rioters to block the road linking Vengere suburb and Central Business District (CBD).
The violent protesters went on tear the campaign billboard of President Emmerson Mnangagwa at the Rusape Bus Terminus entrance (opposite N Richards Wholesalers).
Katope, who was represented by Mr Leonard Chigadza, of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He argued that the charges were framed by one Fungai Murisa to fix him over political differences.
However, the Rusape district prosecutor Ms Event Dhliwayo was able to convince the court that Katope, together with Boomers and Maone, led protestors in blocking the road and destroying President Mnangagwa’s campaign billboard.
They attempted to burn the campaign billboard using tyres and card board boxes.
“On January 15, 2019 at 9am, Katope together with the other two accomplices only identified as Boomers and Maone, who are still at large, led a crowd of rioters to Vengere Bus Terminus.
“While at the Vengere Bus Terminus, the trio incited others and went on to tear the campaign billboard of President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa. They then went on to ignite a tyre which was filled with card board boxes and attempted to burn the billboard, but failed.
“Katope and his accomplices went on to block the Chiduku road at N Richards Wholesalers with concrete pillars, stones and vending tables. Katope ran away after seeing the reaction team of police and Zimbabwe National Army.
“On January 18, 2019 Katope was arrested and his accomplices are still at large,” said Ms Dhliwayo.
In denying the offence Katope said he was not even at the crime scene and the State witness Fungai Murisa was not credible and out to fix him as they were not in good books.