By Nomalanga Moyo
Twenty-one MDC-T supporters accused of murdering a police inspector in Glen View in 2011 were on Thursday acquitted by High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu.
The 21 are part of a group of 29 activists who were arrested two years ago following political skirmishes in Harare’s Glen View high density suburb. They were set free after the court ruled that none of the evidence put forward by the State implicated them on the murder charge.
Seven of the accused will, however, have to defend themselves in court after Justice Bhunu ruled that they had a case to answer. These are Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, Last Maengahama, Lazarus Maengahama, Edwin Muingiri, Phineas Nhatarikwa, and Paul Rukanda.
Rebecca Mafukeni, one of the activists, died last month while still detained at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison following several unsuccessful bail attempts. Last Maengahama, Madzokere, and Musarurwa remain detained at Chikurubi.
One of the defence lawyers, Gift Mtisi, told SW Radio Africa that a ruling on the late Mafukeni’s discharge plea will be made once the judge sees a death certificate.
Mtisi explained: “Death terminates criminal liability and the judge has indicated that he will need to see proof of her death to enable him to abandon the case. However with the remaining seven they were, unfortunately, linked to the events at either Glen View 3 or 4.
“Even if they were not present the judge said the fact that they were associated with the activities of the people who were in Glen View 3, warranted that they be put on their defence,” Mtisi added.
Mtisi said the defence team never doubted that their clients will be acquitted as none of the evidence placed before the court incriminated them. It is unclear when the remaining seven will return to court as the matter was postponed indefinitely.
Simon Mapanzure, one of the five activists who had been in detention since his arrest in 2011, was among those freed Thursday.
Others include MDC-T youth leader Solomon Madzore, Cynthia Manjoro, Genesis Chinyama, Memory Ncube, Kerina Dehwa, Tapfuma Madzore, Jefias Moyo, Odrey Chimombe, Abina Rutsito, and Stanford Mangwiro.
The 29 activists were arrested in May 2011 when a police team responding to reports of disturbances was attacked, resulting in the death of inspector Mutedza.
During the course of the trial which was deferred at least seven times, defence lawyers alleged that some of their clients were tortured and ill-treated while in detention. SW Radio Africa