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High Court quashes MP's conviction and sentence
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)

February 02, 2012

The High Court on Thursday 2 February 2012 overturned the conviction and sentence of Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Member of Parliament for Chipinge South Hon. Meki Makuyana, who was granted an 18 month prison term for allegedly kidnapping two people.

Hon Meki and his three co-accused persons Hardwork Masaiti, a councillor for a ward in the legislator's constituency, Simon Chaya and Wedzerai Gwenzi were convicted and sentenced to serve 18 months in prison by the late Chipinge Magistrate Samuel Zuze in 2009 for allegedly kidnapping two people Isaac Dhlovu and Joseph Dhliwayo and depriving them of freedom of movement in 2008.

But High Court Judge Justice Charles Hungwe, who sat with Justice Susan Mavangira on Thursday 2 February 2012 quashed Hon. Meki, Masaiti, Chaya and Gwenzi's conviction and set aside their sentence after ruling that Magistrate Zuze erred and misdirected himself by placing the onus on Hon.Meki, Masaiti, Chaya and Gwenzi to prove their innocence. The four were on bail pending the outcome of their appeal by the High Court.

The ruling by the High Court Judges followed an appeal against both conviction and sentence which was filed by Hon. Meki's lawyer Trust Maanda, who is a board member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

In his appeal Maanda argued there were deficiencies in the record of proceedings as the late Magistrate Zuze did not record his reasons for sentencing the Chipinge South legislator and his co-accused persons. Maanda said there was nothing to show that Magistrate Zuze took into account all that was said in mitigation. The human rights lawyer said Magistrate Zuze did not show the reasons why he settled for the option of imprisonment and not of a fine or community service.

Maanda argued that Hon. Meki, Masaiti, Chaya and Gwenzi had not kidnapped Dhlovu and Dhliwayo but had only restrained the two who had committed an offence of stabbing a member of the public at a meeting held in the legislator's constituency. Maanda argued that Hon. Meki and his co-accused persons had the right and duty to effect a citizen arrest on Dhlovu and Dhliwayo as provided for in the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act.

Hon. Meki was suspended from Parliament in 2009 by the Clerk of Parliament, Austin Zvoma, despite appealing against his conviction and sentence.

Hon. Meki is now expected to resume attending parliamentary sessions and executing his duties as a Member of Parliament when parliament resumes business this month.

The Chipinge South Member of Parliament becomes the third legislator to be exonerated after the High Court quashed Chipinge East MP Hon. Mathias Mlambo and Mutare West MP Hon. Shuwa Mudiwa's convictions and set aside their sentences on charges of attempting to defeat the course of justice and kidnapping after ruling that State witnesses who testified during their trial were inconsistent.

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