A Tanzanian court on Thursday denied journalist Erick Kabendera a chance to pay his last respect to his departed mother, Verdiana Mjwahuzi.
Kisutu Resident Magistrate Magistrate Janeth Mtega ruled that it wasn’t in her jurisdiction to allow Kabendera to attend the burial as economic crimes, which the scribe is charged with, are not bailable.
She also stated that the court lacked jurisdiction to grant Kabendera his request.
Kabendera’s lawyer Jebra Kambole had requested the court to grant his client leave under escort saying he had not made any attempt to escape and the charges levelled against him do not involve a breach of peace.
“In the cause of humanity, we request the court to consider and grant him leave under escort, ” said Kambole.
State Attorney Wankyo Simon had rejected the plea saying the court had no powers to grant such leave.
“We regret the loss of his mother, but this court has no power to allow him leave of absence considering that cases of economic crimes are heard in the High Court, ” he said.
Kabendera, who is facing charges of organised crime and money laundering, broke into tears even before the commencement of the proceedings. His relatives couldn’t also hide their disappointment after the declaration.
Mjwahuzi died on Tuesday morning at the age of 80.
The public viewing of her body will be held Changombe, Dar es Salaam and it will be interred in Bukoba province on Saturday.
Speaking to the media, after the ruling, Kambole stated that he was equally disappointed.
He stated that his client wished that his late mother be given a befitting burial as he would have done if he was not incarcerated.
Kabendera, according to the late mother was the sole breadwinner and caregiver.
In a video that went viral a fortnight ago, the mother pleaded with President John Pombe Magufuli to release her son, but the pleas fell on deaf ears.
Kabendera was arrested in July last year over what the state termed as questionable citizenship status, money laundering, tax evasion and leading organised crime, which are not bailable offences in Tanzania.
Several states including the United States, United Kingdom and Canada and human right groups have condemned irregular arrest, detention and indictment of Kabendera by Tanzanian authorities.
He’s facing three counts of economic crimes including assisting an organised crime racket, money laundering, and failing to pay millions of dollars in tax, all between January 2015 and July 2019.
The groups now want the state to drop trumped-up charges against Kabendera and have him freed unconditionally.
The case was adjourned to January 13 when it will be mentioned again.