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Lawyer's detention ordeal ends as police detain legislator over anti-Mugabe slur
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

December 19, 2011

The detention ordeal of Bindura human rights lawyer, Ernst Jena, who was accused of undermining the authority of or insulting President Robert Mugabe finally ended on Monday 19 December 2011 when he was granted bail by Bindura Magistrate Charles Murove.

Magistrate Murove granted bail to Jena when he was finally brought to court on Monday morning after spending five days in police custody since his arrest and detention on Wednesday 14 December 2011.

Jena, who was represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) member lawyers, Chris Mhike of Atherstone and Cook Legal Practitioners and Tarisai Mutangi of Donsa, Nkomo&Mutangi Legal Practitioners was charged with contravening Section 33 (2) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly making an unlawful, intentional and abusive statement about Mugabe. Jena was also charged with contravening Section 177 (a) (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly undermining police authority.

State prosecutor Emmanuel Muchenga alleged that Jena insulted Mugabe on 9 December 2011 while enjoying some refreshments at Kimberley Reef Hotel in Bindura, Mashonaland Central Province when he stated that; "Mugabe mudenga, Mugabe mudenga, muroverei pasi" which the State translated to mean "Mugabe up in the air, Mugabe up in the air, smash him on the ground."

In the second charge, Muchenga alleged that the human rights lawyer unlawfully and intentionally made a false statement at Kimberley Reef Hotel in the presence of Tinashe Zisengwe, a police officer, who was on duty, with the intention of engendering feelings of hostility towards the police officer or the police force or exposing Zisengwe or the police force to contempt, ridicule, or disesteem.

According to Muchenga, Jena reportedly told Zisengwe that; "Ndinoziva kuti iwe uri muC.I.D weku Law and order. Ndinoda kuti undisunge izvozvi kana pane mhosva, Mugabe mudenga, Mugabe mudenga. Muroverei pasi. MaPP arimuno anaDeya ava ngavabve vandiprosecutor izvozvi," which was translated to mean that; "I know that you are a detective attached to CID Law and Order. I want you to arrest me now if there is an offence. Mugabe up, Mugabe. Smash him down. Prosecutors are here the likes of Mr Deya let him prosecute me."

The matter was remanded to Tuesday 10 January 2012.

In Mutare, Magistrate Noah Gwatidzo on Monday 19 December 2011 postponed to Tuesday 20 December 2011, a ruling on a bail application filed by Chimamimani West Member of Parliament, Hon. Lynette Karenyi, who was also charged with undermining the authority of or insulting Mugabe.

Hon. Karenyi, who is represented by ZLHR member lawyer, David Tandiri and who was detained when she reported at Mutare Central Police on Monday 19 December 2011, allegedly insulted Mugabe at a rally held in Nhedziwa, in Manicaland Province on 9 December 2011. State prosecutor, Truman Joma claimed that Hon. Karenyi accused Mugabe of double standards by criticizing her Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party for allegedly supporting homosexuality practices and yet the octogenarian leader's party together with former Media, Information and Publicity Minister, Jonathan Moyo had endorsed gay rights in some of the country's laws.

Meanwhile, High Court Judge Justice Nicholas Mathonsi on Friday 16 December 2011 dismissed an appeal filed by the State seeking to overturn a bail order granted in favour of two Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe (MMPZ) employees, Fadzai December and Molly Chimhanda and MMPZ member, Gilbert Mabusa Gwanda Magistrate Douglas Zvenyika.

State prosecutor Blessing Gundani had on Friday 9 December 2011 invoked the notorious Section 121 of the Criminal Evidence and Procedure Act (CPEA) to suspend the bail order which had been granted to December, Chimhanda and Mabusa, who are accused of contravening some provisions of the draconian Public Order and Security Act (POSA) and the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

But Justice Mathonsi dismissed the State's appeal which came after the admission of the MMPZ employees' to bail. December, Chimhanda and Mabusa were arrested on Monday 5 December 2011 after they attended at Gwanda Police Station in the company of their lawyer, Kossam Ncube of Kossam Ncube and Partners, who is a board member of ZLHR.

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