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  • Index of articles on enforced disappearances in Zimbabwe

  • Terror charges against Mukoko & 8 others dropped
    Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
    September 28, 2009

    The Supreme Court on Monday quashed terror charges against prominent human rights activist Jestina Mukoko and 8 others, illegally abducted and tortured by the country's security forces last year. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, flanked by Justice Luke Malaba and Justice Paddington Garwe, ruled that Mukoko and her co-accused could not be tried now, or in the future, because their constitutional rights had been violated.

    Last year in December Mukoko was abducted from her Norton home in the early hours of the morning, wearing nothing but her night clothes. For weeks police claimed they did not have her in custody, only for the then State Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa, to admit in court papers that he had sanctioned the abductions as a matter of state security. When she finally appeared in court she was charged with helping to recruit people for purposes of military training in Botswana.

    Our Harare correspondent Simon Muchemwa was at the court house and reports that Mukoko was in tears after the ruling was passed. She told journalists it was a 'happy day for me and my family.' The Zimbabwe Peace Project director said she would be going home to rest and thanked everyone who had supported her during her ordeal. Mukoko also vowed to continue her activism work.

    Mukoko was freed on bail in May after almost 6 months in custody. Being a former ZBC TV presenter she became the most high profile abductee from the group. Other activists abducted during last year's raids included Tsvangirai's former aide Gandhi Mudzingwa, MDC director of security Chris Dhlamini, Broderick Takawira, Mapfumo Garutsa, Regis Mujeyi, Zacharia Nkomo, Chinoto Zulu and freelance journalist Andrew Manyere.

    Charges against the group were dubious from the word go and even governments in the SADC region admitted there was no evidence to confirm the alleged banditry training in Botswana. Over 30 opposition and civil society activists were abducted from their homes or work places last year, before being held in secret locations for several weeks. The regime only produced the activists near Christmas time when the MDC-T put a deadline of 1 January 2009 for them to be freed or brought to court.

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