There's no evidence to link me to terrorism, woman tells court

Terror suspect Zuena Nakumicha Machabe talks to her lawyer Chacha Mwita at Kahawa Law courts on August 21,2023. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

A woman arraigned before Kahawa Law Court in a probe over alleged terrorism links on Wednesday persuaded the court not to allow anti-terror police to hold her for 20 more days.

While terming the investigations as a fishing expedition, Zeuna Nakhumincha Machabe told Kahawa Law Court magistrate Gideon Kiage that legally in Tanzania the authorities cleared her to travel to Zambia.

She said that those in Zambia at first failed to clear her owing to consent by the father of her three children to show that he had accepted that she travels with them.

In her reply to the application by the prosecution, Zuena stated that after she got the consent documents, Zambia’s authorities stamped her passport with approval that she proceed with her journey.

During the virtual hearing, Zuena’s lawyer Chaacha Mwita argued there is no evidence to warrant holding her further.

He added that there was also no proof that she would escape while being investigated if released.

According to him, Zuena has a home in Nakuru, has strong family ties in the country, and is a Kenyan citizen.

In the new application, the State through prosecutor Jillo Waqo said that the ATPU police required more time to probe Zuena.

She stated that so far, they have written to Tanzania, and Zambia authorities and have asked mobile service providers for data on her mobile phone line.

Jillo told the court that Zuena is suspected of  facilitating Tanzanians crossing into and out of Kenya adding that they are still at large.

At the same time, the prosecutor stated that Zuena was to be received by Mr Timothy, her alleged husband in Zambia who is also claimed to be at large.

“We do not have information to charge owing to the nature of investigations. There are associates who have been established and they are yet to record statements,” said Jillo.

The prosecutor argued that the application was made in good faith and in the interest of justice.

“We humbly ask for the continued detention of the respondent. In the fullness of time, we will reveal more. We pray for the patience of the court and the respondent,” argued Jillo.

The prosecution stated that Zuena was on the radar until when she was arrested.

Zuena’s lawyer first questioned the lead investigator in order to make his case that there was no need to hold her longer.

He asked Mwiti why the State had not pressed a charge despite alleging in his affidavit that she was to eventually travel to Somalia to join Al-Shabaab.

During cross-examination, the investigator, Sergeant Joseph Mwiti said that Zuena was arrested based on intelligence. He said that there was a need to establish the same.

Chaacha claimed that his client was tortured by Tanzanian authorities and beaten up.

According to Mwiti, she was allegedly denied entry to Zambia after Tanzania authorities received intelligence on her.

He said that there was a need to establish where she got the documents that prompted the Zambian authorities to grant her entry.

However, Mwiti stated that there was no arrest warrant against the mother of three.

The investigator said that he had indicated in his affidavit that Zeuna was being probed for a single offense; facilitating the recruitment of members to a terrorist group.

Nevertheless, he said that more could be disclosed during investigations.

On the other hand, Chaacha urged the court to release Zuena. He argued that as a mother, her children needed her.

At the same time, he said that owing to the allegations, the court could order her to report to the investigations officer whenever required.

“There is no justification for holding the respondent in custody. We humbly ask the application be declined,” argued Chaacha.

Zuena was arrested at Tunduma, Tanzania on July 27, 2023, the ruling will be delivered next week on Tuesday.