3 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Zimrights Official Still Detained With Three Others

An official from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) and three other individuals dragged into the case against him, all remain detained in Harare after being arrested last month.

ZimRights programs manager Leo Chamahwinya was arrested during a police raid on the group's offices in early December and taken into custody on allegations that he was involved in 'illegal voter registration'. He was then charged with 'conspiracy to commit fraud'.

Three other individuals were also arrested in December and charged in the same case, which human rights lawyer Trust Maanda said was a deliberate ploy to try and implicate Chamahwinya. Maanda told SW Radio Africa that none of the accused knows anything about the allegations made by the state and Chamahwinya and the others did not even know each other.

The other three individuals, Dorcas Shereni, Tanaka Chinaka and Farai Bhani, are all being accused of forgery, fraud and publishing 'false statements'. The state has alleged that the group forged voter registration certificates "to tarnish the name of the Registrar General."

Bail against the four was denied by a local magistrate before the Christmas season, meaning the group was forced to remain behind bars through the festive period. Their lawyer Maanda said Thursday that they will be appealing the magistrate's decision at the High Court when it reopens this month.

Meanwhile five MDC-T activists who were charged in an ongoing murder case from 2011 are also still detained, with their lawyers set to resume fighting for their release on bail.

The five are part of a group of 29 activists charged in connection with the death of Glen View policeman Petros Mutedza in May 2011. The other 24 activists were released on bail in late 2012, over a year after they were originally charged.

The five still detained are Last Maengahama, Tungamirai Madozkere, Rebecca Mafikeni, Yvonne Musarurwa and Simon Mapanzure. One of the group's lawyers, Gift Mtisi, told SW Radio Africa on Thursday that they will be launching another appeal against the bail refusal at the High Court when it reopens.

The trial against the 29 will also resume at the High Court, although no date has yet been set.

Two other MDC-T Youth Assembly officials have also been charged in connection with Mutedza's death, after their arrest in late October last year. Tarirai Kusotera and Jackson Mabota were held in detention for a month before being released on bail. But they are being tried separately to the original Glen View 29. Their case will also continue this year.

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