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  • Index of articles on enforced disappearances in Zimbabwe

  • Political abductees - trial details - Peace Watch
    May 11, 2009


    The bail application for Chris Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa and Andrisson Manyere was not finalised this afternoon. The case is still dragging on. High Court Judge Mtshiya dismissed the State’s preliminary technical objection to the hearing of the application, but then postponed the case until tomorrow, when he will hear argument on the merits of the application.

    Zimbabwe Independent Editor Vincent Kahiya and News Editor Constantine Chimakure have been detained in custody at Harare Central Police Station on allegations of publishing and communicating falsehoods.

    Political Abductees - Trial Details

    Peace Watch has been covering the cases of the political abductees from the time they were kidnapped and disappeared last year:

    Background: While they were “disappeared” the State claimed no knowledge of their whereabouts, and recorded their disappearances as kidnappings. Meanwhile the Government press was reporting that the MDC-T were training recruits in Botswana to overthrow the government by force, an accusation repeated by the Government at a SADC Security Ministers meeting. Botswana denied that any training was going on. SADC set up a team to investigate, and the then Chairperson of SADC, SA President Motlanthe, later said he was satisfied there was no training going on.

    In December the MDC said they would withdraw from inter-party negotiations until the abductees were produced [some were NGO peace workers and others members of the MDC]. This led to their being “discovered” just before Christmas in police custody [the police previously having denied any knowledge of their whereabouts]. They were brought to court on criminal charges, although their lawyers argued that as victims of kidnapping they should be treated as complainants and not accused. When the lawyers eventually had access to interview them, they alleged they had been tortured. The magistrate after several delays allowed them access to doctors of their choice who confirmed injuries consistent with torture allegations. It was a long drawn-out court battle to get most of them into hospital for treatment and then another battle to get them bail. Three of the accused are still in custody and awaiting their latest bail hearing [see above]

    They are now being brought to trial, some of them eight months after their abduction [Cases 1 and 3 – those accused of recruiting for training in Botswana] and the rest five months or more after abduction [Case 2 – those accused of sabotage].

    They will be tried in three groups in three separate trials: two involving charges of recruiting persons to undergo military training in Botswana; and one involving charges of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism based on explosions that damaged police premises and a bridge. All the trials will be held at the High Court in Harare.

    Case No. 1: Trial Commences Monday 8th June

    State v Concillia Chinanzvavana, Fidelis Chiramba, Violet Mupfuranhewe and Collen Mutemagau

    Charges: contravening section 24(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act between 1st July and 30th October 2008 by recruiting a certain Tapera Mupfuranhewe and other MDC-T party youths to undergo military training in Botswana for the purpose of committing acts of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism in Zimbabwe, alternatively, contravening section 187(a) or (b) as read with section 24(a) of the same Act by persuading the same persons to undergo the same training for the same purpose.

    State case: The list of State witnesses includes Tapera Mupfuranhewe, the recruit named in the indictment; a senior State Security officer to whom Tapera was reporting periodically; and three persons [Terry Musona, Fanwell Tembo and Lloyd Tarumbwa] also originally abducted at the same time and listed among the “disappeared” until they surfaced in protective custody as State witnesses. When they were released by High Court order in early March it emerged that they had been held for several months by the State, and they signed affidavits to say they had been tortured during that time. The State also intends to produce letters allegedly written by Concillia Chinanzvavana and other MDC-T officials.

    Case No. 2: Trial Commences Monday 29th June

    State v Kisimusi [Chris] Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa, Chinoto Zulu, Andrison Manyere, Zacharia Nkomo, Regis Mujeyi and Mapfumo Garutsa,

    Charges: five counts of contravening section 23(1)(a)(i)(ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [“insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism”] by causing explosions at police premises in Harare and at the Manyame River Bridge near Norton on various dates in August and November last year, alternatively, causing malicious damage to property in contravention of section 143(a)(i) of the same Act.

    State case: The State case appears to rely heavily on an oral statement made by Kisimusi Dhlamini to the investigating officer implicating himself and the others, and another statement made by him on a video recorded by a State Security officer. The admission of these statements can be expected to be resisted by the defence, as Dhlamini has subsequently said he was severely tortured and was prepared to say anything to avoid the torture continuing. The State say that the police discovered a cordtex and safety fuse in Dhlamini’s bedroom, a smoke grenade in Mudzingwa’s possession, and ammunition in Manyere’s bedroom.

    Case No. 3: Trial Commences Monday 20th July

    State v Manuel Chinanzvavana, Pieta Kaseke, Jestina Mukoko, Audrey Zimbudzana and Brodrick Takawira

    Charge: contravening section 24(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act between 1st April and 31st October 2008 by recruiting Ricardo Hwasheni to undergo military training in Botswana for the purpose of committing acts of insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism in Zimbabwe

    State case: The main witness will be the individual allegedly recruited, Ricardo Hwasheni [a police officer who is a relative of accused Pieta Kaseke]. The State also proposes to lead evidence from a State Security officer who recorded a video of the accused persons "in connection with their involvement in this matter" [no other details given].

    Other Political Trials

    Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, Eric Matinenga, awaits judgment, due to be handed down on 26th May, on charges of inciting public violence during last year’s elections. His case was heard in March, when he insisted on taking the stand and giving evidence, as he said he wanted the truth to be told. He won the Buhera West seat for the MDC-T in the March elections, and was arrested on 31st May 2008 after getting a High Court order directing the army to confine itself to its constitutional duties of defending the nation and to stop harassing people in his constituency. He was held at Buhera police station and moved to Mutare police station, before being released after a few days on the basis that there was no case for him to answer. A few days later he was picked up again and was in custody for four weeks before being released on bail.

    Deputy Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development, Dr Tichaona Mudzingwa, who is being tried on a charge of attempting to cause disaffection in defence forces in the aftermath of the March 29 elections. His case has been constantly deferred and is to continue on Friday 15th May.

    Deputy Minister of Agriculture designate, Roy Bennett, is facing trial on allegations of possessing arms of war. His next court appearance is not until 1st July. He is on bail and obliged to report to police once a week.

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