Day 5: Update on detention of Farai Maguwu
By Tinoziva Bere
I was tempted to sleep early for the hard day ahead but realized that many of you are not able to reach us by phone and therefore may depend on these updates. A few have asked me questions that suggest confusion as to who I am or who the team are. I have put an addendum to this update which will hopefully be helpful.
DAY 5 EVENTS
We met Farai Maguwu at the Harare Central Police Station at 8.30am. We gave Farai food and medication. The first sign of trouble was when they sought Farai’s permission to access CRD records in a CRD laptop. Farai sought our counsel and then declined arguing that he was not the owner of the information. We also questioned the legality of the request. The police then seemed very upset but restrained themselves. We stood our ground consistent with client’s decision.
Subsequently a charge based on new facts was laid. Unlike the previous one used to arrest and detain Farai, the new charge did not refer to the Kimberly Process Monitor, Mr. A. Chikane at all. After consultation Farai gave a written statement denying the charges.
The statement was recorded at or around 11am but the Police then corrected the charges again and had Farai re-execute his statement. 2pm came and went while Police sat at the computer doing some papers. At 4pm they asked us to accompany them to a meeting at the Attorney General’s Office where they held a meeting initially on their own and later with us.
It was then that we were told the obvious, that it was too late to go to court and that Farai’s case would be first on Tuesday’s initial remand court roll. It will be day 6 since detention when Farai appears in court. Both constitutional and statutory safeguard against arbitrary arrest and detention and prolonged detention without appearance in court have been violated.
We were advised by the Attorney General’s officers that bail will be opposed. We then escorted Farai back to Rhodesville Police station were the cells are better than Central Police Station cells (if one were to compare cells at all). We asked that he be given warm bedding and gave him his food and medication. We are quietly confident that the case will be heard tomorrow based on the AG officers’ assurances.
We are satisfied that Farai was arrested in order to investigate and or frame some sort of charges to achieve some other purpose. This is why after he gave his one sentence statement it took the police all day to prepare the docket. Farai is being punished through prolonged pre-remand incarceration.
Farai is very strong in his spirits and will and he believes that good will prevail. Physically we remain concerned over his chest and throat infection as well as fever. His breathing is worrisome despite the medicines he is taking. We will seek a court order for him to be examined by a doctor and for proper tests to be made to determine what ails his chest.
We must report more shuttling. Farai will be remanded back to Mutare which is the court with jurisdiction. We could have objected but that would have prolonged the delay. Our fears are that tomorrow even if bail is granted (which it should since he handed himself in voluntarily), the AG may invoke the notorious section 121 resulting in automatic imprisonment for at least 7 days after which the AG may not even appeal as has happened in other cases.
We also note that the confiscated assets and documents have not been returned and this cripples CRD’s operations. In prison or even released with no passport Farai will not be able to be effective in his advocacy. Worse still, if they impose strict bail conditions, they may take the passport from the police and lodge it with the court and ban international travel. The enemies of his work will have achieved their purpose. After their ends are achieved the charges can eventually be dropped. It is a tragedy.
It is 1.24am Zimbabwe time. I have a few hours left to sleep. Let me stop. I trust this is helpful. If there were trips due and presentations scheduled that are critical, please talk to us so that we consult Farai about options tomorrow in case he does not leave jail tomorrow. If you need us to remove you from this mailing list please advise. If you need txt updates then please text to me.
Tino Bere & Farai’ Defence Team
FARAI MAGUWU DEFENCE TEAM
TINOZIVA BERE-lead counsel
Tino Bere is the Senior Partner and founder of Bere Brothers Legal Practitioners (1992), a human rights lawyer, ZESN Board Chairperson (since 2008), a Councillor of the Commonwealth Lawyers Association (CLA),Vice President of Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ), board member Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), Board Member of Family Aids Caring Trust (FACT) (a HIV/AIDS charity), Board Chairperson of Mutare Legal Projects Centre (MuLPC), a founding member and Secretary General of Manicaland Legal Practitioners Association, initiator and motivator of Manicaland lawyers response to Chiadzwa brutalities in 2008 AND a human rights activist, advocate and trainer.
My Partner, Johane Zviuya is the other team member. He is a Partner in the firm Bere Brothers in Mutare, Manicaland. He is also Chairperson of Manicaland Legal Practitioners from which position he led lawyers to make the first decisive response to Chiadzwa brutalities by offering free legal assistance to every victim of arrest and brutality at a time when jails were full 2007-2008. He led the team to win ZLHR Human Rights Defender of the Year 2008. Johane is also a human rights trainer and advocate as well as litigator of many years experience.
Trust Maanda is the latest member of the defence team. He is current ZLHR Human Rights Lawyer of the year. He teamed with Tino Bere in successfully defending Eric Matinenga in 2008-9. He recently was part of the defence team that successfully defended Roy Bennett. Trust is Vice Chairperson of Manicaland Legal Practitioners Association and was co-ordinator and report writer for the Manicaland lawyers Chiadzwa project. Trust is a Partner at Maunga, Maanda & Associates Legal Practitioners, a member of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, a human rights trainer, advocate and litigator. Trust is immediate past Regional Manager of ZLHR Eastern Region.