Zimbabwe Magistrate Living In Fear After Death Threats

A close colleague for Magistrate Story Rushambwa said the magistrate had received threats on his mobile phone and to force him to release five youths on bail. They, through their lawyer Grasien Manyurureni, have also made an application for bail pending appeal against both conviction and sentence.

The magistrate sentenced the youths convicted of engaging in political violence in 2008, to 44 months imprisonment.

One of the messages accused Rushambwa of having imprisoned the party’s leading campaign team, saying they should be released.

“Waisa musangano wese mujeri (you have imprisoned the whole party) and who do you think you are working for?” reads part of the message that was sent to Rushamba by a senior Zanu PF official.

Provincial Resident Minister Martin Dinha is one of the top leaders who are accused of issuing out the threats.

Dinha refused to comment Friday saying he was attending a meeting.

The youths were accused of destroying a house belonging MDC councilor for ward 9 Aniko Chikuvanyanga and another belonging to the party’s chairperson for Bindura District Tongai Jack in Chipadze on December 7, 2008.

The youth were allegedly led by Wellington Chakanyuka aka Cde John who also stands accused of murdering MDC activist,Irene Runzwirai by throwing her into fire during the period leading to the runoff election in June 2008. The matter is yet to be brought before the courts.

In December the same year Chakanyuka led a group of Zanu PF thugs who destroyed Jack and Chikuvanyanga’s houses in Chipadze, Bindura. Both cases were reported to Bindura central police station under case number CR169/02/09.

On March 5 this year, Magistrate Rushambwa found the five Zanu PF hooligans guilty which has angered the party’s top leadership in the Mashonaland Central Province. The province is also the party stronghold.

A number of magistrates have been transferred from Bindura after pressure Zanu PF officials arguing that they were not being given favourable rulings at the expense of the MDC.

Munamato Mutevedzi, who used to work in Bindura, was last year transferred to the Harare Magistrate Courts.