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of WOZA members continues with court summons for Chikurubi 14
of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA)
October 14, 2010
of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe continued this week when police
attempted to serve summons to 14 activists arrested in May 2008.
Only one member, Clara Manjengwa, received the summons to appear
in Harare Magistrate's Court today at 8.30am. When she presented
herself at court, there was no docket, witnesses or any record of
the matter being due to be heard. The police themselves were not
even present. In fact the only evidence that a summons had been
served was the copy that Clara herself had. Clara is still recovering
from her most recent detention in Harare Central Police Station
a few weeks ago and had to leave her sick bed to attend court.
Instead of dismissing the matter out of hand, Prosecutor
Chigota insisted on calling out the names of the 14 from Clara's
copy of the summons three times, despite it having been communicated
that Clara was the only member to receive the summons. The matter
was postponed to 11.30am to give time for the docket to be found.
When at 11.30 the docket still had not been found and neither the
Investigating Officer nor witnesses were present, Magistrate Munhamato
Mutevedzi dismissed the matter. The state will have to proceed by
way of summons when they have their case in order.
The 14 members
had been arrested on 28th May 2008 near the Zambian Embassy in Harare,
where they were to hand over a petition to the SADC chair calling
for an end to post-election violence. 12 of the group spent 17 days
in Chikurubi and Harare Remand Prisons after the state contested
the Magistrate's granting of bail. Two members, Jenni Williams
and Magodonga Mahlangu, spent 37 days in Chikurubi Prison before
being granted bail. The group were charged under Section 37 (1)
(c) of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act - 'participating in
a gathering with the intent to promote public violence, a breach
of the peace or bigotry'. After appearing in court on remand
several times, the group was finally removed off remand on 15th
WOZA condemns this attempt by the state to resurrect
this case over two years later without any additional evidence as
pure harassment of human rights defenders. It raises concerns of
renewed violence and persecution of pro-democracy activists ahead
of a possible election next year.
the WOZA fact
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