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Violence, recrimination and arrests after policeman's death in Glen View - Index of articles
tramples political ‘offenders’ liberties
Elias Mambo, The Independent (Zimbabwe)
November 15, 2013
Holding a mop
with a bucket of water beside him, MDC-T deputy national chairperson,Senator
Morgen Komichi,vigorously scrubs the floor at Mabelreign Polyclinic
in Harare on Tuesday as he performs 350 hours of community service
for being found guilty of fraud and contravening the Electoral
97 days in remand at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison, Komichi
was last Thursday found
guilty of criminally obtaining a Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
ballot paper during the
chaotic July 14 -15 special vote which preceded the July 31
national elections, and was given a wholly-suspended 18-month jail
term. Harare provincial magistrate Tendai Mahwe set aside eight
months of the sentence on condition Komichi does not commit a similar
offence in the next five years. He further suspended the balance
of the sentence on condition Komichi performs 350 hours of community
service at Mabelreign clinic.
be savouring his freedom despite the temporary limitations imposed
by the community service, as it came after five failed bail attempts
- two of them at the High court.
sentence has raised concerns regarding the protection and respect
of the liberty of people awaiting trial, particularly in cases which
are politically related, and mostly involving members of opposition
parties and civil society activists.
Critics of Zimbabwe’s
justice system claim it is far from being impartial when handling
political matters. They cite politically-related cases or those
involving top opposition politicians where the accused are denied
bail, while hard-core criminals accused of serious crimes like armed
robbery and murder get bail.
ago, the High Court granted US$50 bail each to eight robbery suspects
arrested during a police raid at their late colleague’s funeral
in Mbare. The eight have been linked to a spate of robberies and
hijackings that have rocked Harare over the past months.
there are several other cases where accused political figures spent
more than a year in remand, only to be acquitted later with the
police sometimes receiving severe criticism from magistrates for
minister Chris Kuruneri was acquitted by the High Court in 2007
for allegedly externalising forex to build a house in South Africa
after spending more than a year in remand prison amid 10 futile
appeals for bail. Kuruneri was arrested at the height of the Zimbabwean
government’s anti-graft crusade, becoming the most senior
official to face charges of corruption.
was another prominent Zanu PF politician who spent about seven months
in remand prison, only to be fined over $7 million in the now-defunct
local currency for externalising foreign currency.
a member of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and Komichi’s lawyer,
castigated the country’s judiciary system, which he said has
unnecessarily incarcerated people pending trial but later found
should consider a lot of things before making people suffer and
later releasing them. The Komichi issue is just one of the many
cases where the liberty of the individual has been compromised,”
case of Komichi, at the very least he was supposed to be given bail
pending trial, but we tried five times without success, only for
him to be convicted and given community service,” he said.
He also said
many people have fallen victim to the judiciary’s lack of
respect for the liberty of the accused.
how the case of the ‘MDC 29’ accused
of the murder of police Inspector Petros Mutedza in Glen View
finally ended? After spending close to two years in remand prison,
the majority of them were acquitted, but without any compensation,”
High Court judge
Justice Chinembiri Bhunu criticised the police for indiscriminately
arresting the 29 MDC-T activists who were charged with the murder
of Mutedza in May 2011.
Bhunu said police
investigations, which led to the arrest of the MDC-T supporters
in Glen View suburb, were carried out “carelessly”.
The judge also
said although the activists’ proffered different alibis, the
police, in some instances, chose to ignore the explanations and
simply proceeded to detain the accused persons without verifying
One such case
was that of Cynthia Manjoro, arrested by the police in a bid to
use her as bait to trap her boyfriend Darlington Madzonga.
Maxwell Saungweme said the Komichi case reinforces calls to reform
the whole justice system.
case clearly demonstrates the partisanship of the judiciary. This
is one of a multitude of cases that demonstrate how unbalanced our
judiciary system is where perceived opponents of the state, be it
from civil society or political parties, do not get a fair trial,”
a clear miscarriage of justice when people are arrested in order
to be investigated. The courts, in most similar cases, work to appease
the interests of the state by working together with the police and
the Attorney-General’s Office.”
He also said
reforming the judiciary system is long overdue and any opposition
political party that wants to make an impact should dwell on the
issue, together with other crucial reforms, before talking about
approach that has become second-nature to the Zimbabwe Republic
Police, must come to an end. We strongly urge the ZRP to investigate
in order to arrest; a practice consistent with all human rights
upholding police forces throughout the world,” said Muchadehama.
With the new
constitution in place there is hope that amendment of the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act, widely criticised as being draconian
and prone to abuse by the state, will be repealed.
of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act (CPEA) enables the Attorney-General
or his representative to have an accused person who has just been
granted bail by a judge or magistrate kept in detention for up to
seven days simply by informing the court that they wish to appeal
against the granting of bail.
In the last
parliament, MDC-T Mutare Central Member of Parliament, Innocent
Gonese, attempted to introduce amendments to the CPEA as well as
the Public Order
and Security Act through a Private Members Bill, but his efforts
were blocked by Zanu PF.
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