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and Mahlangu and Refugee Seven further remanded in Bulawayo Magistrate's
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
December 08, 2009
WOZA leaders, Jenni Williams and Magodonga Mahlangu,
appeared in Bulawayo Magistrate's Court on Monday 7th December as
instructed only to be informed that their court record file, which
is kept separate for security reasons, was not accessible. They
did not appear in court but were asked to return on Tuesday 8th
Upon returning on 8th, their lawyer, Kossam Ncube,
was informed that the file is locked in an 'exhibit'
room and the person with the keys is away on leave but they were
trying to call her to come and hand over the file. Later it was
said that her line was not reachable.
One of the prosecutors
then suggested a duplicate file be prepared, upon which Mr Ncube
agreed as long as the state agreed not to oppose his application
for a removal off remand. Whereupon the prosecutor advised that
he had to take the matter to his chief law officer, Mrs Cheda -
'you know these political cases are sensitive' he said.
The reply forthcoming from Mrs Cheda was that she had to consult
'Harare' (the Attorney General's office) and could
not get through on the telephone. The matter was then postponed
to later in the afternoon.
When the matter reconvened in the afternoon, Magistrate
Mkhonto refused to hear any of the defence's arguments whilst
the file is not before her. She further remanded the pair to Monday
14th December and instructed the state to produce the original file.
When Mr Ncube asked if she would entertain an application on the
14th if the file is not to hand, her reply was that she would only
be prepared to entertain any application with the record present.
WOZA members in solidarity in the court counted at least seven plain-clothed
state agents in the court room.
Meanwhile seven members arrested on 17 June 2009
in Bulawayo during a peaceful protest under the theme "Real
People, Real Needs" on UN World Refugee Day also appeared
on the same day in the same court and were again represented by
Kossam Ncube. Magistrate Tancy Dube was due to deliver a ruling
on whether she would allow the defence to take a constitutional
challenge in regard to the matter.
After a late start, she granted the application
for the matter to be taken to the Supreme Court. The state did not
oppose this application. Mr Ncube then immediately applied for his
clients to be removed off remand, as they could not continue appearing
in court for an indefinite period of time as the Supreme Court has
a large backlog. The state, represented by prosecutor Jeremiah Mutsindikwa,
opposed this application. He argued that one could not predetermine
that the Supreme Court application would not be resolved speedily
and that the police could not be burdened to re-summons the accused
when the Supreme Court would have dismissed the defence application.
Mutsindikwa argued that it was not a limitation on their liberty
to keep appearing in court and he would be generous and agree to
a long remand period. The magistrate will give her ruling on 10
December, International Human Rights Day, on whether the seven members
can be removed off remand.
WOZA is disappointed
that, once again, justice had been delayed in these two matters.
Williams and Mahlangu were arrested on 16th October 2008 for demanding
that the food situation in Zimbabwe be declared a national disaster
and all Zimbabwean be able to access food aid. They have been out
of custody in this matter since the High Court granted them bail
on 5th November 2008.
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