Bennett sends message of condolences to Tsvangirai

JOHANNESBURG – Jailed MDC top official Roy Bennett, whose bail case will be heard in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, has offered his condolences to MDC leader and Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister over the death of his wife in a car accident on Friday.

In a statement released on Sunday the MDC said; “Roy Bennett has learnt with great sadness the tragic passing-on of Mrs Susan Tsvangirai,” adding; “Roy Bennett is gravely saddened and has conveyed his condolences to president of the MDC, and Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, his family, the MDC and to the people of Zimbabwe.”

Tsvangirai’s wife died on the spot and he was injured last Friday evening when a truck that was coming from the opposite direction hit the vehicle the couple was traveling in about 100km south of Harare, along the highway to Masvingo town.

The Prime Minister and his wife were travelling to his rural home in Buhera in the south east of Zimbabwe where he was due to address a rally on Saturday.

“In his message Roy Bennett emphasised the need for all to remain true to the dreams of the democratic Zimbabwe and to ‘strive to achieve the Zimbabwe Mai Tsvangirai (Mrs Tsvangirai) wanted to see’,” said the statement.

A top ally of Tsvangirai and his pick for deputy minister of agriculture, Bennett was arrested on February 13 at a small airport outside Harare as he was leaving the country for South Africa and faces charges of terrorism, insurgency, sabotage or banditry.

He denies the charges as politically motivated and the MDC said on Sunday the Supreme Court bail application will be heard on Tuesday.

“The Supreme Court bail hearing for MDC treasurer general and deputy minister of agriculture designate, Hon Roy Bennett will be heard on Tuesday 10, March 2009, at 1130hrs.”

Bennett was granted a US$2 000 bail last week by a High Court judge but the state is appealing against the ruling.

The hugely popular Bennett is the most senior of several MDC members languishing in jail on charges that the party says are trumped up.

Tsvangirai has said that it would be difficult for the unity government to move forward while the activists remain in jail.

Meanwhile a Mutare magistrate, Livingstone Chipadze – arrested last Friday on charges of criminal abuse of office after he permitted Bennett to pay bail money and comply with other bail conditions which would have allowed him to be freed – was on Saturday freed on bail.

Chipadze was remanded to 17 March 2009 on the condition that he deposited US$20 with the Clerk of Court. He was also ordered to remain at his Mutare home until the matter has been finalised and that he should not interfere with witnesses.

His lawyers immediately filed an application for refusal of remand. The application will be heard on 17 March 2009.

A senior magistrate from Rusape, 100km west of Mutare, Hosea Mujaya, presided over the bail hearing while Michael Mugabe of the Attorney General’s office based in Harare was prosecuting.

Chipadze was arrested on Thursday night on allegations that he improperly allowed Bennett’s lawyers to deposit bail money and to comply with other bail conditions on Tuesday.

After Chipadze gave Bennett permission to deposit the bail sum as well as his passport with the clerk of court, a warrant for the MDC politician’s liberty was issued.

But a senior prison official, Zondai Nyatsanza, took away the warrant before Bennett could be released from jail. – ZimOnline.