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trial postponed as top Gvt official skips court
Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)
November 19, 2013
Elijah Makomo on Tuesday 19 November 2013 postponed to Friday 22
November 2013 the trial of Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Abel Chikomo on charges
of running an “unregistered” organisation after a top
government official, Sydney Mhishi, failed to show up in court to
testify as a State witness.
sought a postponement of the high stakes trial to Friday 22 November
2013 after informing Magistrate Makomo that Mhishi, who is the Director
of Social Services in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare could not avail himself for court proceedings as
he was attending a funeral.
during police investigations tendered two letters to the Zimbabwe
Republic Police “outlawing” the activities of the non-governmental
umbrella organisation will be the State’s second witness after
Constable Chengetai Mugidwa from whom the State led evidence from
on Wednesday 13 November 2013 when Chikomo’s trial finally
commenced after numerous false starts.
is represented by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights board member,
Selby Hwacha, was arrested in 2011 and his case on charges of contravening
Section 6 (3) of the Private
Voluntary Organisation (PVO) Act (Chapter 17:15) took more than
two years to be tried. Prosecutors allege that his organisation
conducted some activities without being registered with the Social
Welfare Department under the PVO Act. The charge, which Chikomo
denies, came after the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum conducted
a survey on transitional justice in Harare’s Highfield high
charge that the survey conducted by the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO
Forum was illegal since the organisation is not registered as a
PVO. The State claims that Chikomo unlawfully instructed two of
the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum’s employees to commence
or carry out a survey in Harare’s Highfield suburb with the
intention to obtain people's recommendations on the preferred transitional
justice mechanism for Zimbabwe, without his organization registering
with the Social Welfare Department under the PVO Act.
his defence Chikomo, argues that he was wrongly charged and that
the Forum is not a private voluntary organisation which requires
registration under the PVO Act. Through his lawyer, the human rights
defender argued that Section 2 of the PVO Act exempts “anybody
or association of persons, corporate or unincorporated the benefits
from which are exclusively for its own members. He maintained that
the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum is a forum, association and
common law universitas of 20 member organisations.
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