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Bennett goes to jail

PARLIAMENT voted yesterday to jail opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) legislator Roy Bennett for assaulting the Justice minister during a debate over land seizures.

ca, sans-serif”>MPs voted 54-42 to jail Bennett for hitting Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa during a parliamentary debate in May amid a dispute over the government’s move to seize his farm as part of President Robert Mugabe’s programme to take white-owned farms for landless blacks.

Police earlier yesterday arrested Bennett at Harare International Airport, saying he was trying to flee the country to escape a one-year jail term for assaulting Chinamasa.

Bennett was detained at the airport, police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said. A special parliamentary committee recommended on Wednesday that Bennett serve a prison sentence with hard labour for assault.

“He is being charged with attempting to defeat the course of justice,” Bvudzijena said.

Bennett said he was going to South Africa to see his lawyers, not to escape the sentence.

Police escorted Bennett to parliament later yesterday where he made an impassioned speech, saying he was sorry for what he had done.

He said his actions followed provocation and verbal abuse from the ruling Zanu PF party, which he accused of harbouring racial hatred and destroying Zimbabwe in its quest to stay in power.

During the debate in May, Chinamasa called Bennett’s forefathers “thieves and murderers” and said he deserved to lose his farm because he had benefited from a British colonial system that robbed blacks of their land.

“It is incontestable that the racial insult by the honourable Chinamasa provoked the incident,” Bennett told parliament. – Reuter.

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