Zimbabwe News

Tendai Biti found guilty of assault

Former Finance Minister Tendai Biti has been found guilty of verbally assaulting a Russian national and investor Tatiana Aleshina in 2020.

Biti, who is a lawyer by profession and an opposition politician, was convicted after a full trial.

According to NewZimbabwe.com, Biti denied the allegations arguing that the charge against him did not form a criminal offence.

Biti’s prosecution followed an incident at the Harare Magistrates Court, where there was an exchange of words between him and Aleshina.

Aleshina said she was about to leave the court gallery after the court session where she was one of the witnesses in criminal cases when she was assaulted by Biti. In her complaint, Aleshina said:

While attending to these matters at Harare Magistrates’ Court, I and my colleague at Pokugara Properties (Private) Limited have been victims of Mr Biti’s unsolicited verbal abuse and assaults which amount to gross professional misconduct.

It was clear to all people who were in the court gallery that Mr Biti took delight not only in verbally abusing me but in trying to intimidate me and felt that, as a woman and foreigner of Russian origins, I was a nonentity to him and that he would use every extrajudicial means to crush me or harm or destroy me for daring to be a witness in the criminal matter against his client.

I strongly feel Mr Biti also violated my rights as a woman by trying to show his man power over me by swearing and shouting at me in a way which clearly made me less human thereby humiliating me. His conduct in pointing against my face was a clear act of verbal assault.

In convicting Biti, Harare magistrate Vongai Muchuchuti said that people cannot be allowed to call each other “idiots” and go scot-free. She said:

What remains critical is that she went to receive medication. She was prescribed some medication although she refused to be admitted.

It is not in dispute that the accused and complainant had a verbal altercation on the day in question and the accused called the complainant a stupid idiot.

All the witnesses except the doctor have confirmed that the incident occurred.

The evidence that clearly stands out is that the accused pointed a finger at the complainant.

The State has managed to prove that the accused uttered the words which the accused confirmed himself.

All the witnesses are credible witnesses and the court has no reason to doubt their testimonies.

The evidence of all the state witnesses cannot be said to be worthless as alleged by the accused.

For those reasons, I find the accused person guilty.

Biti is set to be sentenced at 10 AM on Tuesday and could be sentenced to a fine or up to 10 years or both.

His lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said that they will appeal his conviction.

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