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Conditional granting of bail for Machisa not welcome
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
January 29, 2013

High Court judge, Justice Felistas Chatukuta, granted Okay Machisa bail today, January 29. The judge indicated that the state could not substantiate nor provide reasonable evidence to support all four submissions put forward to deny the appellant bail. Basing on this argument, Justice Chatukuta went on to set aside the magistrate's court ruling.

Justice Chatukuta added the condition that the appellant deposits surety in the form of immovable property worth over $50 000, in addition to those put forward by the defense counsel led by Beatrice Mtetwa. The defense counsel had proposed that Machisa deposit US$500 with the clerk of court, continue to reside at his usual place of residence and report once every week to the police law and order section at the Harare Central Police Station. However Justice Chatukuta said she would not be comfortable to grant bail on these conditions but rather that the appellant deposit such surety.

The decision taken by High Court was met with a stunned silence from sympathizers and supporters who had come to the court in solidarity with Mr. Machisa, and raised alarm and discontent with civil society leaders who were present during the ruling. Speaking to the Crisis report, Mr Mfundo Mlilo the chairperson of Crisis Coalition advocacy committee and director of the Combined Harare Residence Association rebuffed Justice Chatukuta's demands saying,

"We are happy that Mr. Machisa has finally been granted his freedom, but are worried by the fact that it has taken so long, yet the reason given by his defense had been compelling from day 1. This delay in awarding Machisa bail, was a delay in carrying out Justice, and justice delayed is justice denied; Machisa should have been freed by the magistrate's court."

Mfundo Mlilo further stated that:

"The released of Machisa is only a tip of the iceberg, we will not be happy until these trumped charges against ZimRights are dropped, until the criminalization of the institutions stops, through the release of the unjustly incarcerated ZimRights members. Our celebrations will be muted until the state desists from implementing political party resolutions, harassing, intimidating and disturbing the work of NGO's. That will be the day when we celebrate. I also urge people to continue to come in their numbers when the trial begins"

Mr. Machisa, is set to attend a routine remand hearing tomorrow at the magistrate's court, which had set down the matter of bail to the 30th of January 2013. It is largely expected that the courts will remand the case and or give a date for trial.

The other accused persons in the matter, Leo Chamahwinya and Dorcas Shereni are due back at the magistrate court on the 4th of February 2013, while ZimRights, the institution, is set to appear at the same court courts on the 8th of February 2013.

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