A ZIMBABWEAN court has ended the agonising detention ordeal for three MDC-T leaders who spent close to three years at Chikurubi Maximum Prison for allegedly murdering a police officer, Inspector Petros Mutedza.
MDC-T national executive member Last Maengahama, Glenview councilor Tungamirai Madzokere and party member Yvonne Musarurwa had remained in detention at Chikurubi Maximum Prison since March 2012 when they were indicted for trial. Earlier on, the three had served close to ten months while on remand at the same detention facility from where one of them, Rebecca Mafikeni got ill and later succumbed to death at a Harare hospital.
Several attempts by their lawyers Beatrice Mtetwa, Gift Mtisi and Jeremiah Bamu to have them admitted to bail had failed.
But High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu on Wednesday ended their lengthy detention by freeing them on bail pending trial.
The MDC leaders 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. Prosecutors claim that the activists chanted MDC-T party slogans, denouncing the police and threw stones, empty beer bottles, steel stool frames and other missiles at six uniformed police officers resulting in the death of Inspector Mutedza, a charge which they all deny.
Maengahama, Madzokere and Musarurwa will now return to court next month for the continuation of their trial after they were placed on their defence by Justice Bhunu in September last year. The judge determined that the State prosecutors had established a prima facie case against them.
21 other political and human rights activists were acquitted en masse in September last year after their lawyers filed an application for discharge at the close of the State’s case, which was granted on the reasoning that the State did not have credible evidence linking them to the commission of the offence and that nothing would be gained by the State by placing them on their defence.
In his ruling Bhunu railed on police officers over their unprofessional conduct in the arrest and detention of several human rights and political activists who were charged over the murder of a police officer, Inspector Petros Mutedza.