British council worker who quit to become a tribal chief in Zimbabwe where he has often sided with white landowners whose farms are raided is jailed in ‘politically motivated’ trial
- Former auditor for Waltham Forest has been jailed for two years in Zimbabwe
- He left Britain five years ago to become a chief in the Matabeleland region
- Felix Ndiweni, 53, was convicted of malicious damage to property on Friday
- However, his supporters say his arrest was politically motivated
- Ndiweni is vocal critic of Mnangagwa government, supports Western sanctions
A former council worker who left the UK to become a tribal chief for the Matabeleland region of Zimbabwe has been jailed in the country.
Felix Ndiweni, 53, was sentenced to two years behind bars with six months suspended for malicious damage to property on Friday.
He used to work as an auditor for Waltham Forest and lived in Essex up until five years ago.
His supporters say his trial was politically motivated and an attempt to silence Ndiweni, who has been openly critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.
He sided with white landowners whose property had become overrun by supporters of ruling party, the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF).
Ndiweni’s lawyers have filed an appeal, according to local media.
Felix Ndiweni, 53, (pictured) was sentenced to two years behind bars with six months suspended for malicious damage to property on Friday
Ndiweni was put on trial alongside 23 others for ordering the hedge of a woman accused of adultery to be destroyed.
The villagers were each sentenced to 525 hours of community service, while the tribal chief received a jail term.
Riot police intervened to break up protesters as his sentence was announced.
Zimbabwean senator and human rights lawyer David Coltart tweeted on Friday: ‘My thoughts this evening are w @ChiefKhayisa Chief Ndiweni unjustly incarcerated today.
‘I’ve no doubt that this prosecution & sentence of 18 months imprisonment is a direct result of his principled stance against injustice perpetrated by the brutal & corrupt Mnangagwa regime.’
His supporters say his trial was politically motivated and an attempt to silence Ndiweni, who has been openly critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s (pictured) government
Ndiweni was working as an auditor for Waltham Forest council and lived in Canvey Island, Essex until he quit the job five years ago and moved to Matabeleland where he became a chief.
The jailed chief has vocally supported Western sanctions on Zimbabwe, and accused Mr Mugabe and Mr Mnangagwa of presiding over human rights abuses during the Gukurahundi massacre in the eighties, The Times reported.
A day before his arrest, Ndiweni shared a video on Twitter urging people to participate in peaceful anti-government protests.
Tribal chiefs are the immediate form of government for Zimbabweans who live on communal lands. The institution of traditional leadership continues to operate alongside modern state structures.