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Treason charges against Munyaradzi Gwisai & others - Index of articles
wish to thank you all for the overwhelming solidarity during our
March 07, 2012
I wish to thank
you all for the overwhelming solidarity in the last year beginning
on the fateful
day of the 19th of February 2011 where we have had to endure
the stressful court and jail procedures. Today I went to the remand
prison to see our comrades detained for the alleged
murder of the Glenview police officer last year. I felt the
painful jail mood and also felt the same way I felt the day I went
out of the walls. Thanx to your solidarity. Prison in Zimbabwe is
not a joke. I salute you for the support you gave to the comrades
and our families outside.
The day I stepped
out of remand prison, made me feel more comfortable in this world
when I cried on seeing you in your numbers outside the prison complex.
But more important was the amount of solidarity you had managed
to build up in our cause which was evident in multiple channels
the globe your voices were heard and Aluta Continua. I now know
we are more in numbers than the devil and evil that torments our
lives daily. An injury to one is an injury to all. We are 99% and
they are 1% and another world is possible.
It is now a year since we were arrested and the case has seen all
the drama till its close yesterday when we finished testifying in
our defense before Mr. Kudakwashe Jarabini the magistrate. The drama
swung from the spurious charge of treason, alteration to subversion
of a constitutional government, release of co-accused, dropping
of treason and the subversion and substitution for the new charges
of conspiring to commit public violence and three other alternative
charges of contravening section 187 as read with section 36 of the
(Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly inciting public
violence, contravening section 37 (1) (a) of the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with
intent to promote public violence, breaches of peace or bigotry
and contravening section 37 (1) (c) of the Criminal Law (Codification
and Reform) Act for allegedly participating in a gathering with
intent to promote violence, breaches of peace or bigotry were later
preferred. What a hilarious window shopping spree. One hopes they
have found the dress that fits.
refused to preside over the case and recused themselves, star witnesses
were called in, and dropped before trial attend.
These are just
among the dramatic events that took p-lace in just the last year.
But what is more exciting is the meaning of all this drama. To us
the accused it was a vindication of our innocence, and we patiently
wait for the judgment to be delivered on the 19th of February 2012.
Just to take you the path of the drama:
First we were
arrested among other Zimbabweans who were going about their business
close to the meeting venue. I apologize for the inconvenience caused
by this blanket arrest.
We were taken
to Harare central police station where upon arrival we were greeted
by raggedly dressed men who made it clear that theirs was to "kill"
us on the same night. At this time I suddenly felt deferent from
the time of arrest. We went through an intense episode of beating
which lasted for about two hours before we were then detained in
the law order section of the Harare Central Police station.
Until the day
we were then taken to court, the routines included photography,
finger printing, statement writing, interrogation and so forth.
We were made to sign warned and cautioned statements on Subverting
a constitutional government and an attempt was made to take seven
among us on those charges to court a day before we finally appeared.
On our way to court, we suddenly saw the truck we had been bundled
in make a u-turn to the police station and we felt relived.
We thought after
all the trauma, charges were going to be dropped. Little did we
know that something more was coming. Those who had been promised
liberty and us were all taken to court the following day and were
advised of the treason charge on the day we appeared in court.
This was shocking to many and in a short while the defense council
advised the court that we intended to challenge placement on remand,
a move which paid as only six comrades remained in custody after
the court ruled that the state had not leveled anything against
those 35 it released. Myself and 5 other comrades were placed on
remand for treason because at least we had said something in the
meeting and therefore we had a case to answer.
We made applications
for bail at the high court and were granted with stringent conditions
which were later to be altered. High Court Judge Samuel Kudya said
the case against Gwisai and his colleagues was weak. "I see
no iota of evidence that any Zimbabwean ever contemplated a Tunisian
and Egyptian revolution," Kudya said in his ruling.
At the time
we were applying for the alteration of bail conditions, we were
then advised by the state that the charges had been altered and
a trial date had been set in the regional court. We were to anticipate
the charges till the time we were charged in court again on charges
whose warned and cautioned statement we had not signed. These are
the charges we were tried on to date.
The more exciting
drama was in court when trial opened. First it was the state-s
first witness Chari who rubbished the state and told the court that
he had been forced to testify under duress. Rinos Chari, told the
court that he was once arrested on the same allegations but was
later released by an unidentified police officer who asked him to
go home while they were at court.
"I am not quite aware of the reason why they are before the
court. I do not know the offence they are facing," said Chari,
whose testimony the state had hoped would nail Gwisai and company.
Chari told the court that he was assaulted by the police before
being turned state witness.
"I was arrested by police who assaulted me like a snake that
has been found in a house. They assaulted me using button sticks
and fists. Until now I still feel some pain," he said.
Then came the
Jonathan Shoko, Rodwell Chitiyo, the key spy who according to his
words in court had a conspiracy theory and hoped one day it would
be held true. No wonder the agony he had to try and convict us before
a judge could. This star witness had nothing incriminating from
his evidence. While he was preoccupied with the treason charges,
which we were not facing in the trial, his constant briefings with
the state council did not yield much as his cover had been irreparably
He lied about
his name under oath and still wishes the court must let him go scot
free. His attempt to put up a brave face were not even exciting
to the state as seen by the sudden drop-out of the much talked about
Nyazamba who was to later in the year get an award for prosecuting
"difficult, high profile cases." Jonathan Shoko told
the court that he was a police detective but was torn apart by Aleck
Muchadehama the defense council, to shreds. He real name is Rodwell
Chitiyo, a former student of the Midlands State University now enrolled
for a Masters Program in Lingistics at the UZ. I must admit, his
command of the English and other languages is characteristic of
a Masters student of Linguistics. But he had nothing much more than
the failed thesis on his conspiracy theory. He must have had a big
bashing at his job in the intelligence for failing to deliver a
blow to perceived or known opponents of the ZANU PF regime.
Chitiyo is the
sole state witness who testifies to have been in the meeting.
But what was
wrong with the 19 February 2011meeting?
One must admit
first that the whole world was shaken by the Egyptian revolution
and subsequent reverberations in the Arab world. The President of
Zimbabwe has made confessions about the same revolts that he was
disturbed by the developments. You only need nothing more than the
ZANU PF Conference tape to understand this. He has reiterated it
in recent talks on his birthday. News channels all over the world
were awash with the same news and they were unavoidable. Nothing
was wrong with the meeting except that the regime was panicking
as it confessed and somebody had to do something. This something
was nothing other than the conspiracy theory that an armature CIO
operative had to work on. So porous was the theory that it has left
a lot of hands dirty. First is the Police officer responsible for
issuing a police ID to Shoko, which subsequently vanished during
trial. Second was the police Superintendent Ngirishi who was forced
to make false confessions in court about the theory and last is
the state for knowingly allowing Shoko to perjure himself in trial.
Having been fooled by Jonathan Shoko, the security forces of this
country failed to do their home work before they could proceed with
prosecution. This high alert case caught the irreversible attention
of those worried by the Egyptian revolution and nothing less that
sacrifice of the guinea pigs in our form was to be accepted. Now
we have gone through the trial and await judgment and possible sentence.
prejudicial, I must confess that we have pleaded not guilty and
have had very little labor with trying to defend ourselves. We have
sought to be truthful and stand by what transpired on the day. A
conviction in this case means we will be guilty of conspiring to
topple the regime of Mugabe through an Egypt style revolution. It
will mean that Shoko was such a credible witness who even if he
did not incriminate anyone the accused are guilty. It will mean
that the developments in Egypt were not of national interest and
that we intended to let the nation know about them in our own way.
It will mean that if a confused police officer arrests you for something
unknown and later goes charge shopping, then you are guilty, for
if somebody was so convinced of treason, why window-shop for something
else in as much as four next shops? It will means that very soon
our satellite dishes will be illegal, for one will be guilty of
tuning in to a particular station that is broadcasting the Egyptian
struggle or watching a movie about the Desert Storm, or "The
Escape from Sobiba".
But I trust
the courts, I have seen in the last year of attending court robbers
go to jail, rapist go to jail and other getting acquitted on crimes
that they have not committed. A conviction means that there is no
freedom to assemble in Zimbabwe and it will be a warning to you
my fellow peace loving Zimbabweans to avoid the avenues of fighting
As the day of reckoning draws closer, we are calling on all of you
to come in solidarity in the support of our struggle for freedom.
Remember we lost an application for discharge at the close of the
state case, lost refusal to be placed on remand after the opening
of the trial and this coming 19th of March 2012 can be a conviction
day if statistics are anything to go by. Let me not preempt the
court but leave you with this summary of our experience and thoughts
about the charges we are facing.
is a lesson to all of your fighting for a just Zimbabwe that it-s
not tea and coffee.
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