28 February 2013

Tanzania: Ponda's Supporters Have Case to Answer

THE Kisutu Resident Magistrate's Court in Dar es Salaam found the 54 alleged followers of Secretary General of the Council of Islamic Organization, Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, with a case to answer in respect of four counts against them.

Resident Magistrate Sudi Fimbo ruled that the prosecution established a prima facie case against the accused after presenting nine witnesses to prove charges of conspiracy, unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation and incitement. She ordered the accused to start presenting their defence evidence starting on Thursday.

Before delivery of the ruling, the prosecution, led by Senior State Attorney Bernard Kongola requested the court to hold to account the accused because the evidence produced was sufficient to make them give their defence.

But the defence, led by Advocate Mohamed Tibanyendela, had submitted to the contrary that the evidence against the accused was not enough and could even not ground a conviction even if the accused would decide to remain silent.

The counsel for the accused alleged that some essential witnesses were not called to give testimony, including the one who had written a letter to the police, seeking permission to stage the demonstrations.

It is alleged that a section of people believed to be supporters of Sheikh Ponda had planned the demonstrations to pressurize the Director of Public Persecutions (DPP) to rescind his certificate he had filed to object bail to the Muslim Sheikh on purportedly maintenance of peace.

The 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.

The rest are Omar Mkwama, Kassim Chobo, Abubakar Bakari, Ramadhani Milambo, 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 alleged that the accused conspired to commit offences on February 15, this year, in IIala District in the City. The accused, he said, with intent to carry out common purpose, unlawfully assembled in manner as to cause a breach of peace and tranquility.

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