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  • Index of articles on enforced disappearances in Zimbabwe

  • Abductees indicted, redetained overnight, released on bail
    May 06, 2009


    Peace Workers Jestina Mukoko and Broderick Takawira and 11 political abductees were released again today after being re-arrested and put back into Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison on Tuesday. Three other political abductees remain in custody in hospital.

    Political Abductees to be Brought to Trial

    On Monday 4th May at the magistrates court the State presented the formal legal documents setting out the charges against Jestina Mukoko and fifteen other abductees and fixing dates for their trials [in three separate cases in the High Court in June and July]. At the same time the prosecutor applied for all of them to be committed to prison, arguing that the presentation of their indictments for trial cancelled their bail. The defence lawyer argued that their bail had been the subject of an agreement in March between the Attorney-General’s Office and the defence, under which all but three of the abductees were released on bail, and that there was no good reason for not continuing their bail. The magistrate adjourned the proceedings until the next day to hear defence evidence on this agreement with the Attorney-General’s office.

    On Tuesday 5th May the magistrate, Ms Catherine Chimanda, reversed her previous decision to hear evidence from the Attorney-General’s Office about the bail agreement, and refused to let the defence call two witnesses from JOMIC who had been subpoenaed. She declined to entertain further argument and granted the prosecutor’s application to commit the abductees to prison. So it was back to Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison for the thirteen abductees who had previously been on bail. This was obviously a shocking experience for them, as they had been kidnapped, “disappeared”, tortured and held in very bad conditions before their release on bail. It was also very distressing for the doctors who had been treating them, the lawyers fighting for their release and for all their well-wishers both in Zimbabwe and internationally.

    On Wednesday 6th May there was a dramatic about-turn by the State. The defence lawyers went to see Attorney-General Tomana in person and he said he was no longer opposed to bail. A further hearing was arranged at the magistrates court late in the morning, at which the State consented to the reinstatement of bail for these thirteen abductees on the same conditions as before. This was immediately confirmed by the magistrate. The thirteen were released this afternoon.

    Three of Those Facing Trial Still in Custody

    Gandhi Mudzingwa, Chris Dhlamini and Andrisson Manyere, who were among those indicted for trial on Monday, were not released and are in still in custody.. These three are among the seven accused of sabotage and bombing and have been treated separately from the others, as the State claims to have stronger evidence against them. They had been eventually granted bail, much later than the others, on the 9th April but were not immediately released because the State, true to form, indicated its intention to appeal. The State then had 7 days within which to get leave to appeal and formally note its appeal. The three were duly released on bail on 17th April, when the State had failed to meet the deadline for noting its appeal. But their few days of freedom were soon terminated when they were redetained without due process and again placed under armed guard. This re-detention was confirmed by an order of Judge Patel issued on 30th April, following his opinion that the interposition of the Easter weekend public holidays had extended the 7-day period for the State to note its appeal. The defence lawyers argue that Judge Patel’s decision was wrong and are to appeal against it. In the meantime all three men are under armed guard in private clinics, recovering from the effects of their prolonged detention and torture suffered at the hands of State agents.

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