SW Radio Africa (London)

12 February 2013

Zimbabwe: State Witness Absolves MDC-T Activists in Glen View Trial

A state witness, who gave evidence in-camera at the ongoing murder trial of 31 MDC-T activists, has absolved them of committing the crime.

Edinah Chihota told the court on Tuesday she could not positively identify any of them as the culprits who stoned the police officer to death.

The trial of the MDC-T activists accused of murdering police officer Petros Mutedza in May 2011 began again on Monday and was moved from the high court to the magistrate's court, to allow Chihota to give her evidence. The magistrate's courts have facilities to host what is known as a Victim Friendly Court.

The witness had applied to the High court to give evidence in-camera saying she felt uncomfortable testifying in an open court after receiving threats from unknown people.

In her testimony the visibly unsettled Chihota contradicted statements by the state that she saw the activists attack Mutedza. She categorically denied seeing any of the accused throw stones at the police officer, saying she had very little recollection of the events of that day.

Defence lawyer Charles Kwaramba said Chihota gave evidence in camera for the second day running at the magistrate court. 'I cannot go into detail with what was said in court but I can confirm as the defence team, we are done with the witness and the court will return tomorrow (Wednesday) at the High Court.

'It was within her rights to apply to the courts to testify in camera as she felt unsafe to do so in public. We still have a doctor and a pathologist to testify in this case,' Kwaramba said.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu is presiding over the trial. Five of the activists; Last Maengahama, Tungamirai Madzokere, Rebecca Mafukeni, Yvonne Musarurwa and Simon Mapanzure, are still in custody after the judge denied them bail. Some of the activists have spent almost 21 months in remand prison.

Journalists have been barred from covering the proceedings, however SW Radio Africa can reveal that the extent of Chihota's contradictions have left the case hanging by a thread.

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