Dar es Salaam. The Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court yesterday released seven senior Chadema leaders on bail.
The opposition leaders were charged with eight counts of sedition and incitement.
The chairperson of the party’s women’s wing, Ms Halima Mdee, who is also the Kawe MP, was joined in the case yesterday and granted bail along with other leaders. Ms Mdee was arrested at Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport last Saturday, shortly after arriving from South Africa.
Others released on bail yesterday were Chadema chairman Freeman Mbowe, Dr Vincent Mashinji (secretary-general), Mr John Mnyika (deputy secretary-general – Mainland), Mr Salum Mwalimu (deputy secretary-general – Zanzibar), the Rev Peter Msigwa (Iringa Urban MP) and Ms Ester Matiko (Tarime Urban MP). The six were released after spending seven days in remand.
Earlier, the prosecution submitted a fresh charge sheet, raising the number of accused from six to seven following the inclusion of Ms Mdee.
The number of charges was also increased from eight to nine after a sedition charge against Ms Mdee was included in the charge sheet.
Reading the charges, Principal State Attorney Zainab Mango said Ms Mdee uttered seditious words on February 16, 2018 while addressing a public rally at Buibui grounds in Kinondoni District during campaigns for a parliamentary by-election.
She stated that on that day, Ms Mdee was quoted saying: “There is no need for me to describe grievances that everybody is facing because of the fifth phase administration. Tomorrow, let’s slaughter Magufuli and all his aliens.” The accused denied the claims.
State Attorney Faraja Nchimbi and the accused’s lawyer, Mr Peter Kibatala, locked horns after the former submitted that Ms Mdee should be denied bail because she had violated police bond conditions.
However, Principal Resident Magistrate Wilbard Mashauri rejected the request and granted Ms Mdee bail, noting that the charges against her were bailable.
In another development, Mr Mashauri has scheduled April 16 as the day for the case’s preliminary hearing.
The prosecution submitted that because most of the accused are MPs, the court should speed up the case, arguing that it was of public interest.
The prosecution requested that the preliminary hearing be held today, but the plea was strongly opposed by Mr Kibatala, who said he had other cases to attend to in other courts.
Mr Mashauri adjourned the case to April 16 when it will come up for preliminary hearing.
The opposition party leaders are accused of staging unlawful demonstrations in the city during the run-up to the February 17 parliamentary by-election in Kinondoni that resulted in the death of National Institute of Transport student Akwilina Akwilini, who was hit by a stray bullet.