Jailed controversial Ntabazinduna Chief Felix Nhlanhlayamangwe Ndiweni has approached the High Court appealing against both conviction and sentence.
Ndiweni was convicted and jailed along with 23 of his subjects for malicious damage to property by Bulawayo Magistrate Gladmore Mushove.
Mushove sentenced Ndiweni to 18 months in prison for damaging Fetti Mbele's homestead. His 23 co-accused villagers were sentenced to 525 hours of community service.
According to court papers filed by the self-styled Ndebele paramount chief's lawyers, Mathonsi Ncube Law Chambers at the Bulawayo High court, Ndiweni wants the upper court to set aside both the conviction and sentence.
"The court a quo erred in finding that there were aggravating circumstances as no evidence was led to show that fire was used and that the axe used to enforce the order of the court was only but a tool and not a weapon as alleged by the court," reads part of the Ndiweni's appeal papers.
The traditional leader argues that according to the Ndebele culture, it accepted for a traditional leader to banish any subject convicted of a customary offence.
"The court a quo erred in failing to appreciate that Ndebele culture and customary law empowered the 1st appellant (Ndiweni) to banish out of his jurisdiction any subject convicted of a customary offence," argued the traditional leader's lawyers.
Ndiweni's co-accused villagers also want the High Court set aside both their conviction and sentence.
"The court a quo erred in failing to appreciate that the appellants (villagers) had no requisite mens rea for the offence since they were executing a valid court order. The court a quo grossly erred in finding that community service was not an appropriate sentence for the 1st appellant which imposed prison term falls within the 24 months imprisonment threshold," submitted the lawyers.
Mbele of Ntabazinduna was banished from the village by the chief after his wife, Nonkangelo Mpengesi was allegedly caught having sex with another villager. The chief ruled that Mbele should divorce his wife because of her alleged adulterous escapades.
But Mbele refused to divorce his wife leading to his banishment from Sifelani village a decision that offended the traditional leader.