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Index of articles on enforced disappearances in Zimbabwe
charges against Mukoko & 8 others dropped
Lance Guma, SW Radio Africa
September 28, 2009
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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