MDC Alliance co-principal Tendai Biti yesterday narrated his harrowing experience at the hands of State security agents who allegedly applied extra-judicial means to arrest him at Chirundu Border Post before illegally deporting him back into the country following his attempt to cross into Zambia for political asylum.
BY OBEY MANAYITI/NHAU MANGIRAZI
Tendai Biti (centre) walking out of the Harare Magistrate Courts yesterday
Biti told Harare magistrate Francis Mapfumo that it was clear from the way he was arrested that the security agents had an agenda to politically silence him.
He alleged that before the harmonised elections, suspected military operatives were executing a plan to “deal with him”, prompting his decision to escape.
Biti said the attempt on his life started during the election campaign period and at one point his official vehicle was waylaid on its way from Caledonia, and rammed into by another vehicle that sped off.
He said the matter was reportedly reported at Mabvuku Police Station, but nothing was done.
But all hell broke loose after voting. Firstly, Biti said he dramatically escaped abduction at his offices last Wednesday when he addressed a Press conference.
He claimed a fleet of about 15 unmarked cars, some with South African number plates, tried to block him, but one of the lawyers at his law firm jumped onto the drive way and made it impossible for the suspected abductors to execute their plan.
Biti said he went into hiding, but his family members and friends were later subjected to harassment that they were yet to recover from.
His claimed his mother was visited twice by a group of armed men who allegedly harassed her despite her ill-health and advanced age. The armed men reportedly camped at his mother’s residence intending to extract information on his whereabouts.
After that failed, Biti said they went to the home of his friend’s mother where they wantonly harassed everyone in sight.
Biti said his sibling was trailed on many occasions and at one time when he tried to seek refuge at a stranger’s house, the suspected operatives shot at his car which had two other occupants, including his six-year-old nephew.
Upon realising that his pursuers were determined to get him, Biti, with the advice of friends and relatives went to seek asylum in Zambia although he had another option to go to South Africa.
However, more was waiting for him at Chirundu Border Post.
Biti told the court that the security agents at the border post manhandled him, but he escaped with the help of a group of women who came to his rescue.
He said the Zambian police had a torrid time restraining his alleged “abductors”, adding after his escape he spent a night in a police toilet with colleagues as his pursuers bayed for his blood. He was eventually arrested after three gun-wielding soldiers with balaclavas stormed the Zambian police station, before being taken back to Zimbabwe in breach of a Zambian court order blocking his deportation.
Meanwhile, Biti’s lawyer Nqobizitha Mlilo and two other alleged accomplices who were arrested together with the former Finance minister at the border post, have been granted bail by Karoi magistrate Samuel Chitumwa.
Mlilo (39), Clever Rambanepasi (41) and Tawanda Blessing (36) were arrested on Wednesday at Chirundu Border Post.
Chitumwa remanded them out of custody on $100 bail each to August 30. As part of their bail conditions, they were ordered to reside at their given residential address and not to interfere with State witnesses until finalisation of the matter.
The State allege that the accused “acted in common purpose, connived and hatched a plan to enter into Zambia by evading immigration clearance from both Zimbabwe and Zambian authorities”.