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State abuses section 121 for the benefit of Zanu-PF
MDC Youth Assembly
May 07, 2013

The Attorney General’s offices have found a lovely toy in Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act. Zanu-PF oriented prosecutors have been abusing this draconian act to keep behind bars those perceived as Zanu-PF enemies.

A Bindura prosecutor Munyaradzi Mataranyika yesterday unexpectedly and unnecessarily invoked section 121 to block a US$100 bail that was granted by magistrate Elisha Singano.

This unjust piece of legislation has seen unprofessional prosecutors playing ball to Zanu-PF’s demands. The section has been abused to keep mostly MDC members and civic society activists in jail when they have been granted bail.

The section empowers a prosecutor to override a magistrate’s judgment on bail. It has been heavily abused by prosecutors only in cases that are politically motivated. The prosecutors at times come to the courts unprepared for the delivery of justice but to seek means of punishing those who are perceived as enemies of Zanu-PF.

Prosecutors are developing an evil tendency of invoking section 121 every time a known MDC leader or activist is granted bail. The section therefore renders the judges and magistrates’ rulings academic as the accused effectively remain behind bars.

The section removes the right of the accused person to freedom. The State is now persecuting through prosecution. Even when an individual is clearly not guilty and with a clear alibi as in the case of leader Solomon Madzore, the State can invoke the section to deny one’s freedom.

Section 121(3) which reads: A decision by a judge or magistrate to admit a person to bail shall be suspended if, immediately after the decision, the judge or magistrate is notified that the Attorney-General or his representative wishes to appeal against the decision, and the decision shall thereupon be suspended and the person shall remain in custody until -

(a) if the Attorney-General or his representative does not appeal in terms of subsection (1) -

(i) he notifies the judge or magistrate that he has decided not to pursue the appeal; or

(ii) the expiry of seven days; whichever is the sooner; or

(b) if the Attorney-General or his representative appeals in terms of subsection (1), the appeal is determined

The section has clearly removed the onus to determine the freedom of the accused person from the presiding magistrate based on the submission of the prosecution and defence counsel. What a Bindura prosecutor Munyaradzi Matarenyika did yesterday to leader Solomon Madzore was unnecessary and unthinkable under a professional judicial system. This will be a thing of the past in a new dispensation under the leadership of President Morgan Tsvangirai.

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