THE NGO NETWORK ALLIANCE PROJECT - an online community for Zimbabwean activists  
 View archive by sector



Back to Index

This article participates on the following special index pages:

  • Treason charges against Munyaradzi Gwisai & others - Index of articles

  • I wish to thank you all for the overwhelming solidarity during our trial
    Hopewell Gumbo
    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 of media.

    From across 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.

    Alternative charges of contravening section 187 as read with section 36 of the Criminal Law (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.

    Some magistrates 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 blown up.

    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.

    Without being 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 for justice.

    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.

    Our experience is a lesson to all of your fighting for a just Zimbabwe that it-s not tea and coffee.

    Aluta Continua

    Please credit if you make use of material from this website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License unless stated otherwise.