17 January 2013

Zimbabwe: Zimrights Director Denied Bail

Zimbabwe Human Rights director Okay Machisa, accused of tampering with the voters' roll, has been denied bail by a Harare magistrate. Machisa is accused of forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud.

He also faces an alternative charge of publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the State.

His alleged accomplices Farai Bhani, Tatenda Chinaka, Dorcas Shereni and Leo Chamahwinya have since appeared in court facing the same charges.

Prosecutor Mr Michael Reza opposed bail arguing that Machisa committed a very serious offence. He accused Machisa of attempting to cause mayhem in the country that could result in the United Nations (UN) calling for a resolution for a no-fly zone over Zimbabwe.

Mr Reza said Machisa and his alleged accomplices, who are accused of manufacturing fake voter registration certificates, intended the forthcoming elections to be considered a sham by the international community.

"The accused persons have Registrar-General's voter registration slips, police also found fake voter registration slips with a person allegedly born in 1894," said Mr Reza.

"What the accused persons intended to do was after the elections and, if a party they do not favour wins the elections, they would go to the international media and present the fake voter registration slips alleging some of the voters who voted were 'ghost' voters born in 1894."

Mr Reza said the other slips showed real information for persons who once existed but died in 1940.

"After elections they would then interview the relatives of the long dead people asking them how their dead relatives could have voted," he said.

"Such elections will be considered a sham by the international community and when the international community sees this, there would be a United Nations resolution, then a few days later, Zimbabwe would be a no-fly zone."

However, Machisa's lawyer Ms Beatrice Mtetwa dismissed the State's allegations.

She argued that there was no evidence linking his client to the commission of the offence. Ms Mtetwa also argued that Machisa surrendered himself to the police hence he was a good candidate for bail.

She added that the police searched his offices and failed to find anything that could link him to the crime. She accused the State of abusing the justice system for political reasons.

Magistrate Mr Mahwe ruled in favour of the State and remanded Machisa in custody to January 30.

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