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The commuter omnibus driver accused of fleeing police in Harare and knocking down and killing a four-year-old boy yesterday changed his culpable homicide guilty plea to not guilty.

Lloyd Kusotera (28) told Harare provincial magistrate Mr Douglas Chikwewe that police officers had been visiting him in remand prison to make threats and accuse him of bringing the force into disrepute.

He is charged with culpable homicide and contravening the Road Traffic Act.

Kusotera’s lawyer, Mr Tawanda Takaendesa, said his client told him that cops had been accusing him of causing the transfer of their colleagues from the Traffic Section to other sections.

“He was also accused of putting the name of Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri into disrepute, hence he was threatened to plead guilty to the charges,” he said.

Mr Chikwekwe warned the defence counsel against making bald allegations.

“The allegations you have raised are very serious, give specific names of the police officers who visited the accused at remand prison,” he said.

Mr Takaendesa said he did not have specific names and did not have full instructions from his client.

Mr Chikwewe briefly adjourned the court to allow the lawyer to get more information.

The court was in for another surprise when Mr Marufu Mandevere took over from Mr Takaendesa, submitting that he had instructions from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights to represent the accused.

Mr Mandevere said he would not dwell on the allegations against police.

But prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri would have none of that and insisted that the court look into the matter.

“The allegations are very serious since the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services is a security institution where everyone who enters has hisher name recorded. State wants to know who visited the accused in remand prison.

“Furthermore Mr Mandevere should recuse himself from this matter because he was given instructions by ZLHR when at the same time they (ZLHR) are representing a key witness in the matter, Samatha Kiti, the deceased four year-old Nail Tanatswa Mutyora’s aunt.”

Mr Mandevere then said he was now representing the accused in his personal capacity and not as instructed by ZLHR.

Mr Chikwekwe told Mr Mandevere not to take the court as a circus and ordered him to seek clarity from ZLHR.

The matter was postponed to Tuesday and Kusotera’s trial date was set for June 12.

When Kusotera initially appeared in court he disowned his warned and cautioned statement, which he said was recorded under duress. After that he then changed his plea from not guilty to guilty.

Prosecutor Ms Francesca Mukumbiri, told the court that Kusotera of Chitungwiza was employed as a commuter omnibus driver by Jinga Tours.

On the day in question, Kusotera was driving a white Toyota Hiace and boarding passengers at an undesignated pick-up point.

Trying to evade the police, Kusotera drove against traffic on a one-way street and hit Tanatswa, who was pronounced dead on arrival at the Avenues Clinic.

Allegations are that Kusotera was negligent, failed to keep a proper lookout, travelled against one-way traffic signs, and failed to stop or act reasonably when an accident seemed imminent.

Source : The Herald