HIGH Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu on Thursday 19 September 2013 railed on Zimbabwe’s 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.
In a judgment delivered on Thursday morning in Court A at the High Court, Justice Bhunu chided police officers for their unprofessional conduct in arresting human rights campaignerCynthia 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. The judge said the police 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 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 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.
During the high profile trial, prosecutors alleged that the activists chanted MDC-T party slogans, denounced 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.