Four men accused of delivering sodium cyanide to the city's water treatment plant last year have applied for acquittal arguing that they had no case to answer. Simon Demhe, a truck driver at Astra Transport in Bulawayo, his manager Farai Muchenje, Appronalise Mupakaviri of LA Cargo and Tiki Tarwirei, a clearing agent, are accused of contravening sections of the Water Act and the Environmental Management Act.
In their application for discharge at the close of the State case, the quartet through their lawyer Mr Nicholas Chikono argued that there was no evidence on which the court could convict them.
Mr Chikono said: "The State has failed to prove a prima facie case to justify this court to put the four accused on their defence.
"An assertion to say the accused persons attempted to poison water is careless and calculated to cause chaos in the city for certain ulterior motives," argued Mr Chikono.
"If indeed there is no security at the water plant and the perimeter fence is not manned, one wonders why the four failed to smuggle in the cyanide instead of following correct channels.
"The other question that begs for an answer is why were openings not repaired to avoid tragedy if there is no security."
Mr Chikono further argued that the inspection in loco made it clear that the truck concerned did not reach the offloading bay contrary to what the State alleges that the truck went through the security check point at the water treatment plant and drove to the offloading bay.
"It is clear that the container was sealed only to be broken by city of Harare officials and the small containers inside were clearly labelled sodium cyanide. With respect it only needed the accused persons to be idiots to try and poison the water with marked containers and by following all the delivery procedures.
"It also came out clearly from the evidence of Alex Mashamhanda and Felix Nyaruwanga that the sodium cyanide was sent to the water plant by mistake, they called it human error," he said.
Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza opposed the application arguing that the four accused each had a distinct role to play in bringing in and delivery of the cyanide hence should be put to their defence.
"The investigating officer established the conspiracy and he ably explained it to court. LA Cargo represented by Mupakaviri hired a lorry that was unsuitable to carry hazardous chemicals. They hired a driver, Demhe, who had an expired hazardous chemicals handling licence who drove the truck from Beira fully aware that he was carrying sodium cyanide. He connived with Tarwirei and avoided going to EMA offices at Forbes Border Post. Muchenje placed a proof of delivery note indicating aluminium sulphate on top of papers indicating sodium cyanide, he said.