Harare, September 19, 2013 – A Zimbabwean High Court Judge has criticized the conduct of members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) after they arrested and incarcerated several MDC-T supporters for allegedly murdering a police officer, Inspector Petros Mutedza, two years ago.
In a judgment delivered on Thursday, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu rapped some police officers for their unprofessional conduct in arresting human rights campaigner Cynthia Manjoro and MDC-T youth assembly president Solomon Madzore and other activists as they did not have credible evidence linking them to the commission of the offence.
Justice Bhunu said the ZRP officers had arrested Manjoro as an inducement for her boyfriend to surrender himself to the police in connection with the commission of the offence.
Out of a total of 29 activists including the deceased Rebecca Mafikeni, the High Court Judge passed a not guilty verdict on 21 of them and subsequently acquitted them after determining that the State had failed to prove a prima face case against the human rights and political activists and that nothing would be gained by the State by placing them on their defence.
The 21 activists include Cynthia Manjoro, Solomon Madzore, Stanford Maengahama, Stanford Mangwiro, Sydney Chiromo, Jeffias Moyo, Abina Rutsito, Tendayi Chinyama, Memory Ncube, Kerina Gweshe, Gabriel Shumba, Stefani Takaidzwa, Linda Musiyamhanje, Tafadzwa Billiat, Simon Mudimu, Zwelibanze Dube, Simon Mapanzure, Edwin Muingiri, Augustine Tengenyika, Francis Vambai and Nyamadzawo Gapara.
However, seven of the residents namely Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, Last Maengahama, Lazaraus Maengahama, Edwin Muingiri, Phineas Nhatarikwa and Paul Rukanda were placed on their defence after the Judge determined that the State had established a prima facie case against them and their trial will continue at a later date after Justice Bhunu postponed the matter indefinitely.
Justice Bhunu said he had placed some of the residents on their defence to allow them to call in witnesses to substantiate their defence.
The acquittal of the 21 activists some of whom wept in court after the delivery of the verdict came after their lawyers, Beatrice Mtetwa, Charles Kwaramba, Gift Mtisi and Jeremiah Bamu filed an application for discharge at the close of the State’s case in June.
The activists were arrested in 2011 and charged with contravening Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly murdering Inspector Mutedza at a bar in Harare’s high density suburb of Glen View. Alternatively, the residents were also charged with committing public violence in contravention of Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23.
MDC-T national organizing secretary Nelson Chamisa said his party welcomed the acquittal of the activists as they did not deserve to have endured the persecution they underwent for more than two years.