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High hopes of acquittal for jailed MDC activists as Supreme Court reserves judgment

By Nyashadzashe Ndoro

The Supreme Court has reserved judgement in the high profile matter in which two jailed opposition MDC activists Last Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere are appealing against their 2016 conviction on charges of murdering police Inspector Petros Mutedza.

Chalton Hwende, Douglas Mwonzora and Innocent Gonese
Chalton Hwende, Douglas Mwonzora and Innocent Gonese

The duo were arrested in 2014 and convicted in September 2016. They were jailed 20 years each. On Tuesday the duo submitted their appeal to the Supreme Court.

In a statement seen by Nehanda Radio, MDC Secretary for Justice and Legal Affairs, Innocent Gonese said the opposition party was hopeful that Maengahama and Madzokere would be freed at last because the matter was clear and “straightforward.”

“The MDC family and all Zimbabweans who cherish justice, freedom, liberty and democracy are hopeful that Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama who have languished in prison for many years will be freed at last.

“Their Appeal was heard by the Supreme Court today the 3rd of March 2020. Although the Court reserved Judgment, we hope that there will be no inordinate delay which sometimes happens in our courts as the matter is very clear and straightforward.

“The High Court convicted them of murder in a highly flawed judgment relating to the unfortunate events in Glen View where they and 25 others were accused of murdering a police officer Petros Mutedza.

“This was persecution of the highest order and it was the police who were responsible for the mayhem that ensued after unjustifiably interfering with the rights of people who were peacefully gathered at Glen View 3 shopping centre,” Gonese said.

File picture of Nelson Chamisa (far right) on a visit to court in solidarity with Yvonne Musarurwa (left), Last Maengahama and Tunga Madzorere
File picture of Nelson Chamisa (far right) on a visit to court in solidarity with Yvonne Musarurwa (left), Last Maengahama and Tunga Madzorere

Maengahama and Madzokere, together with Yvonne Musarurwa, were convicted in September 2016. Musarurwa was released in 2017 after benefiting from a presidential amnesty aimed at easing congestion in the country’s prisons.

In September 2016, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu handled the case which had been fraught with controversy and slapped Madzokere, Musarurwa and Maengahama with jail sentences after they were convicted of murder with actual intent.

“While the majority were eventually freed when charges were either dropped before the trial and others at the close of the State case or at the conclusion of the trial, the duo have suffered the brunt of State repression after a political judgment bereft of legal logic was delivered.

“As the MDC we were delighted by the brilliant articulation of the issues by their lawyers and in our view, the State had no answers.

Two opposition activists Last Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere, who were convicted in 2016 over a controversial case involving the murder of a police Inspector Petros Mutedzi, are still being supported by the MDC Harare Province led by its secretary for welfare Zivai Mhetu.
Two opposition activists Last Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere, who were convicted in 2016 over a controversial case involving the murder of a police Inspector Petros Mutedzi, are still being supported by the MDC Harare Province led by its secretary for welfare Zivai Mhetu.

“Apart from misdirecting itself on factual issues in finding corroboration where there were contradictions, the Court based the Conviction on the doctrine of common purpose which has not found its way into the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act.

“Our prayer is that the Court will do the right thing and uphold the appeal and find all the Appellants not guilt. We trust that this will be sooner rather than later, Justice delayed is Justice denied,” Gonese said.

Below is a summary of the grounds of appeal

  1. The High Court relied on the evidence of “eye witnesses” who contradicted each other.
  2. That there was a fabrication and a predetermined effort to investigate only MDC members.
  3. That the verdict was based on the doctrine of common purpose. This doctrine was quashed by the Criminal Codification & Reform Act
  4. That the Court placed at e crime scene people with valid alibis
  5. That individuals were judged on the account of one witness when other witnesses confessed that accused were on the other side of the road.
  6. That no witness specifically identifies the appellants throwing stones yet the Court makes a strange finding that they were seen committing the crime. Could this be what Joshua Nkomo referred to as “the law of the rule?”

The MDC has bemoaned what it called “political persecution by an Illegitimate regime” of the citizens of Zimbabwe. “There are also other cases where there have been unjust convictions for instance that of Tonderai Samu and Others which was postponed to the 16th of March 2020.

“The State’s house was not in order, they failed to file Heads of Argument in time. We demand Justice for all our leaders and other Zimbabweans who are victims of political persecution by an Illegitimate regime,” Gonese added. Nehanda Radio

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