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I was hard hit, lost consciousness, police officer testifies in Chadema trial

POLICE officer Corporal Rahim Msangi yesterday gave account of how he became a victim of Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) coordinated demonstrations, saying he lost consciousness.

He said the opposition party members and supporters attacked him at Mkwajuni area in Kinondoni District. “I was hit by a stone at the right side of my neck.

I lost consciousness and I could not know what happened thereafter. I gained consciousness at Kilwa Road police barracks hospital where I was admitted,” he narrated as he testified in the seditious trial of Chadema’s nine senior officers.

Led by State Attorney Wankyo Simon, the third prosecution witness told Principal Resident Magistrate Thomas Simba at Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court that on February 16 , 2 018 , he reported at Oysterbay Police Station for normal duties in the morning.

He was assigned alongside other five police officers to conduct regular patrol within Kinondoni Regional Police Z one. While at Mwenge area at around 17 .00pm, he explained, their team leader, Inspector Mohamed Geleji, informed them that they had to go to Buibui grounds.

The witness testified that at the grounds, at Mwananyamala area, there were members of Chadema whose leaders were concluding campaign meetings for Kinondoni constituency’s by-election that was scheduled for February 17, 2 018 .

He testified that the police officers were told that the party leaders, while entering the stage, were giving hate speeches likely to breach peace. The witness told the court that upon arrival at the grounds, they found the contestant airing his policies.

Thereafter, Chadema National Chairman Freeman Mbowe took the microphone and mobilised the members to demonstrate towards the office of Kinondoni Executive Director at Magomeni area to collect their letters for “the people.”

“The members and supporters were in angry mood. They started moving from the grounds heading to Kawawa Road towards Magomeni area. We remained at the grounds to wait for directives.

Our leader told us later to move to Mkwajuni area. We used alternative routes to reach the area,” he testified. On arrival, the witness said, they found the regional police operation officer at the scene, with other police officers.

He testified that the operation officer commanded the demonstrators, who were armed with stones and bottles, to disperse, but they ignored the order.

Thereafter, he accounted, the police fired teargas bombs towards the demonstrators but that could not help because there was strong wind which was moving towards the directions where the police were stationed, impairing the effectiveness of the bombs to the crowd.

As the police were contemplating on the next move, the witness testified, he was suddenly hit by the stone.

He allegedly could not recognise from whom among the furious group members the stone came from as he lost consciousness and could not know what happened thereafter.

The police officer narrated that after coming back to his senses, he remembered that he had a firearm, SMG, during the patrol. According to the witness, his team leader, however, informed him that the firearm was in safe hands and was returned to the armory by another police officer.

In cross-examination by the defence counsel Peter Kibatala, the witness admitted that legal actions could be taken to the police officer who misuses the firearm entrusted on him/her for security purposes.

He also admitted that the court was not informed whether the firearm he took was returned safely. Apart from Mbowe, other accused persons in the trial are the party’s Secretary General V icent Mashinji, Deputy Secretary General (Mainland) John Mnyika, Deputy Secretary General (Z anzibar) Salum Mwalimu and Iringa Urban Member of Parliament (MP) Peter Msigwa.

Others are Tarime Urban MP Ester Matiko, Kawe MP Halima Mdee, Tarime Rural MP John Heche and Bunda Urban MP Ester Bulaya.

The accused face 11 counts of conspiracy to commit offences, unlawful assembly, rioting after proclamation and inciting commission of offences, raising discontent and ill-will for unlawful purposes and sedition allegedly committed between February 1 and 16 , 2 018 in the city.

The prosecution alleges that on February 16, 2 018 along Kawawa Road at Mkwajuni area, being assembled with intent to carry out a common purpose, jointly and together, all accused conducted themselves in a manner as to cause breach of peace.

It is claimed further that on the same day and place, with over 12 other persons not in court, having riotously assembled, in disobedience of proclamation given by the police officer, the accused did not disperse and continued to take part in the riot.

Thereby, the prosecution claims, the accused breached peace and terrified the public, culminating into the death of National Institute of Transport (NIT) Student Akwilina Akwiline Baftaa and injury of two police officers, Police Constable Fikiri and Corporal Rahim Msangi.

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Author: FAUSTINE KAPAMA

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