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Crisis Report - Issue 222
in Zimbabwe Coalition
September 19, 2013
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29 acquittals: ‘Nothing to celebrate’
atmosphere gripped the High Court in sunny Harare as hugs and tears
were exchanged to mark the acquittal of 21
activists in the Glenview 29 murder trial who walked scot-free
after being pronounced not guilty by Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu
at about midday on September 19.
Solomon Madzore, the Movement for Democratic Change – Tsvangirai
(MDC-T) Youth Assembly leader and the party’s shadow Minister
of Youth, Sport, Art and Culture, who spent 405 days in remand prison
at Chikurubi Maximum Prison, said there was nothing to celebrate.
“I suppose this
was supposed to be a moment of jubilation, moment where we celebrate
our acquittal,” Madzore said. “But there is nothing
to celebrate given the fact that seven of us remain charged, they
have all been placed on their defense.
“It’s a scenario
where this thing came a bit too late.
“I mean we spent
in excess of a year and in the case of Simon Mapanzure, he was behind
bars for more than two years.”
Madzore said he was “disappointed”
about his prison stint, but felt more disappointed about the fact
that one of the accused Rebecca Mafukeni who died at Parirenyatwa
Hospital under prison guard and after she had gone blind owing to
her illness on the morning of August 12, 2013 did not have the opportunity
to taste freedom, or witness the judgment being passed.
of being happy I am very disappointed that Rebecca did not make
it outside,” he said. “So for me whether I had spent
a year, two years, or ten years behind bars, at least I got an opportunity
to be outside.
“I am alive –
what of Rebecca?”
The judge refrained from
passing a judgment in the case of the late Mafukeni.
the Zimbabwe Human
Rights Association (Zimrights) Programs officer who was one
of the accused persons and was detained in prison for over seven
months, broke down clearly overcome with emotion as she hugged one
of the lawyers Jeremiah Bhamu, who consoled her, as she left the
“I feel relieved
it’s been a painful two years, very difficult two years and
I am glad it’s finally over,” Manjoro said. “It’s
overwhelming, it’s just this freedom – it’s overwhelming.
comes with it, I will process in a month or two.”
Passing the judgment,
Justice Bhunu said that Madzore, accused 27, and Manjoro, accused
10, had suffered unnecessarily during their long incarceration because
the prosecution team had failed to fault their alibis from the beginning
of the legal proceedings in May 2011. During their legal battle
to regain freedom, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition did documentaries
of the two democracy activists where they expressed frustration
at being unjustly incarcerated.
Leading defense lawyer,
Beatrice Mtetwa, who had applied for discharge of the Glenview 29
said her hope had been that all the accused persons would be acquitted
because the State’s case “did not meet the required
standard for persons to be put on their defense”.
“The judge has
determined that seven have a case to answer and the rest have been
acquitted,” she said. “We obviously had hoped that all
of them would not be put on their defense.
“So when we resume
we will deal with the case of those who have been put on their defense.”
The seven who were put
on their defense by Justice Bhunu are Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne
Musarurwa, and Last Maengahama, Lazarus Maengahama, Phineas Nhatarikwa,
and Edwin Muingiri, and Paul Nganeropa Rukanda. Justice Bhunu stated
that the prosecution team had proved that these 7 activists had
been seen by one Inspector Nyararai and Constable Solomon Mushaninga
or otherwise had a prima facie case to answer. Their trial will
continue on an unspecified date.
The Glenview 7 accused
persons, who have been put on their defense, are being charged of
murdering a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) inspector, Petros Mutedza,
in Glenview 3 suburb where the activists were having a social braai
in May 2011.
The High Court, Court
A, was packed to the upper auditorium well before the scheduled
time of the court session which was delayed by 51 minutes as the
judges did not show up until 10.51 am.
Those who have been acquitted
are: Solomon Madzore, Cynthia Fungai Manjoro, and Keria Gweshe Dehwa,
Gabriel Shumba Banda, Stefani Takaidzwa, and Stanford Mangwiro,
Oddrey Sydney Chirombe, Jepheas Moyo, and Abina Rutsito, Memory
Ncube, Tendai Maxwell Chinyama, and Lovemore Taruvinga Maguire,
Linda Musiyamhanje, Tafadzwa Billiart, and Simon Mudimu, Simon Mapanzure,
Zwelibanze Dube, and August Tengenyika, Francis Vambayi, and Nyamadzawo
in the court was Irene Petras, the director of Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), several other civil society
leaders such as Zimbabwe
Coalition on Debt and Development’s (ZIMCODD)’s
Hopewell Gumbo, five MDC-T shadow ministers including Nelson Chamisa,
Theresa Makone, Lucia Matibenga, and Paurina Mupariwa, journalists,
relatives of the accused and members of the public.
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