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Courts must warn against persecution disguised as prosecution –
in Zimbabwe Coalition
May 31, 2013
human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa has called on the courts as
the custodians of justice to warn people who abuse the legal system
and state institutions in settling scores with perceived opponents
as the ZimRights
trial entered its third day at the Magistrate Court yesterday.
these remarks on Thursday May 30, when she applied to have her client
Okay Machisa, the ZimRights Director, removed from defense
after state closed its case in the matter that had been precipitated
by a raid
at the ZimRights Headquarters in Harare in December 2012.
“If the court does
not give stern warning of the consequences of persecution disguised
a prosecution, public confidence on our justice system will be eroded,”
the prominent lawyer said.
Mtetwa narrated how her
client had been detained, a High Court order for his released ignored
and how the investigating officer, Detective Assistant Inspector
Mirimbo “vigorously opposed” bail on the contrived basis
that Machisa was the: kingpin of the criminal gang” and wanted
the UN to declare a ‘no-fly zone’ over Zimbabwe.
Mtetwa pointed out that
Mirimbo contradicted his earlier vehemence, confessing he had no
evidence against the accused on appearing before the Magistrate
Court on Wednesday May 29. She therefore implored the court in its
ruling to comment on how “the justice delivery system is on
She added: “I respectfully
submit your worship that this trauma of the accused should be brought
to a quick end without him being further traumatized.”
The matter was heard
before Magistrate Donald Ndirowei and prosecuted by Mr. Chinhetse.
Patrick Nyambiya, a senior
officer at the Immigration office testified and was cross-examined
by the defense counsel and being the last of the six witnesses,
the state closed its case.
All defense lawyers for
the six accused indicated that they were applying for discharge
of heir clients. They asked the court to maintain a verdict of not
guilty, contending that none of the six witnesses gave evidence
linking the six persons on the dock to the supposed crime.
Selby Hwacha, who is
representing the civil society corporate ZimRights, concurred with
Mtetwa that the state needed to comment on the way the justice system
was being manipulated and used for malicious purposes against innocent
Hwacha said it was clear
as outlined by Mtetwa, that the two investigating officers, Assistant
Inspector Mirimbo and Detective Inspector Murira, had exonerated
the six accused including his client under oath through confessions
that they did not have evidence against them on Wednesday. The ZimRights
Treasurer Nunurai Jena represented the organisation in court.
Trust Maanda, the legal
representative for the other two ZimRights officials, Education
Programs Officer Leo Chamahwinya and Highfields local chapter Chairperson
Dorcas Shereni said the state’s case was “unlawful because
it hoped that the accused would implicate each other”.
Maanda charged that the
attorney general’s office had done a shoddy job, hoped the
accused would be put to their defense, so that they “kick
themselves and fall bolstering the state’s case” without
giving any evidence against them.
Section 50(9) of the new Constitution
was clear about the rights of arrested and detained persons. The
Chapter 4, which is the Declaration of Rights, came into effect
when the President assented to the new Constitution (Amendment Bill
20 of the Lancaster House Constitution) on May 22.
The trial was postponed
to June 14.
Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) have been arraigned before the
courts over alleged voter education as the blitzkrieg on NGOs, bolstered
by two consecutive ZANU-PF annual conference resolution (in Bulawayo
in 2011 and Gweru in 2012) against the civil society encroaches
into this year’s harmonized election period.
last week Governor Cain Mathema threatened Bulawayo Agenda (BA),
Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) - the organisation
which ostensibly recorded casualties of the infamous Gukurahundi
massacres - and Radio
Dialogue Fm with non-renewal of licences because they were “spy
organisations… funded by the US intelligence and the British”.
Masvingo Governor Titus
Maluleke also summoned NGOs in the province last year, wanting to
know their source of funding and programs, while warning them against
dabbling in politics and elections.
Visit the Crisis
in Zimbabwe fact
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