19 February 2013

Tanzania: 54 Accused Joined in Ponda Case

Photo: The Daily News
Alleged followers of Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda distance themselves with him in court (file photo).

FIFTY-FOUR alleged followers of the Council of Islamic Organization's Secretary General, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, were on Monday brought to the Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam under tight security charged with four counts including unlawful assembly.

Other charges are conspiracy, rioting after proclamation and incitement. They, however, pleaded not guilty to all the charges when they appeared before Resident Magistrate Sudi Fimbo. The magistrate denied them bail on grounds of security.

Earlier, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Eliezer Feleshi, presented a certificate objecting bail to suspected ring leaders Salum Makome, Said Idd and Ally Nandumbi. Regarding the other accused, the magistrate said their outcome would depend on the normalization of the situation.

Other accused in the case are Hussein Athuman, Seif Rwambo, Abdul Ally, Waziri Swed, Naziru Waziri, Ahmed Rashid, Jumanne Kayogola, Hamis Tita, Amri Digaga, Salim Said, Rajabu Mpote, Haji Sheluhenda, Abdul Ahmed, Bakari Mwambale, Ramadhani Fadhili and Awalu Juma.

Also in the list are Omar Mkwama, Kassim Chobo, Abubakar Bakari, Ramadhani Milambo, Hamis Ndeka, Athumani Juma, Abdallah Salim, Juma Makoti, Bashir Kakoti, Iman Omari, Rashid Lukuta, Bakari Athumani, Mbwana Kassimu, Nurdin Ahmed, Mustapha Mohamed, Rajab Kifundo and Zuberi Juma.

Others include Omar Mkhandi, Idrisa Katulimo, Samali Mola, Said Dudu, Ramadhani Juma, Musa Sinde, Issa Sobo, Yahaya Salim, Jabir Twahir, Shemani Pilimo, Hashimu Henrishi, Waziri Toy, Athumani Yahaya, Yassin Selemani, Shaban Malendo, Yassin Mohamed, Khatibu Abdallah and Rajab Rashid.

The prosecution said investigations into the case have been completed and was ready for preliminary hearing. The magistrate ordered the accused to remain in custody until today when the prosecution would read the memoranda of facts before hearing of the case begins in full.

Reading the charges, State Attorney Mkakatu told the court that the accused conspired to commit the offences on February 15, this year, in IIala District in the City. The accused, he said, unlawfully assembled in manner as to cause breach of peace and tranquility.

According to the prosecution, on the same day and place, all the accused engaged in riot without regards to the lawful proclamation issued by the police, prohibiting unlawful assembly. Salum Makome, Said Idd and Ally Nandumbi were charged with an additional count of inciting members of the public to make unlawful procession.

The prosecution alleged that the trio distributed leaflets or placards that were intended to cause other people to participate in unlawful assembly. The arraignment of the accused was preceded by trial of Ponda and his co-49 accused in the morning and one prosecution witness was called to the witness box.

The evidence of the witness, Mkombozi Mhando, police officer, centred on a statement he recorded for one of the accused. According to his evidence, the accused, Abdulah Swaleh Mucadam, had admitted before him when recording his caution statement that he committed the offences for which he is charged with.

In the case, Sheikh Ponda and his co-49 accused are charged with conspiracy, trespass and criminal possession of property owned by Agritanza Limited on a plot situated at Markaz, Chang'ombe area, in Temeke District. Other charges, according to the prosecution, involve stealing building materials from Agritanza Limited including 1,500 bricks and 36 tonnes of aggregate and iron bars, all worth 59.6m/-.

The offences are alleged to have been committed on October 12, last year. The prosecution, led by Senior State Attorney Tumaini Kweka, requested the Presiding Magistrate, Victoria Nongwa, to admit the statement in question as part of exhibits in the case.

But the request was vehemently opposed by Advocate Juma Nassoro, on grounds that it was recorded against the law. However, the magistrate decided to open a "trial within trial", meaning a small case within the same matter to ascertain the truth of the statement and the prosecution said they would call three witnesses starting today for that matter.

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