12 May 2017

Zimbabwe: Ivory Suspects Want Informer Identified

Photo: Mark Carwardine/WWF
(File photo).

The Constitutional Court is next week set to hear the case in which two Harare women accused of unlawful possession of 25,9 kilogrammes of raw ivory valued at $6 475 are seeking to force the prosecution to reveal the informant. The landmark case will be heard on Wednesday next week as all the parties have been notified of the hearing date by the superior courts registrar.

Winnet Munyonga (36) and Chiedza Chiutsi (33) were arrested in December last year when police searched their vehicle and recovered eight uncut pieces of ivory.

The women had parked their car along Robert Mugabe Road and were searched when they returned to the car some hours later.

Police say they received the information from an unnamed informant.

Before the women entered their plea, they asked the prosecution to reveal the name of the informant, so that an explanation can be made in court how the informant knew they had ivory when they were not aware of its existence in their vehicle.

Police refused to reveal the identity of the informant, while the prosecution opposed the request, and the presiding magistrate, Mr Tendayi Mahwe, upheld the State's position.

The duo, represented by Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, then approached the Constitutional Court claiming violation to a fair trial.

They claim that Section 62 (2) of the Constitution gives every person the right access to any information held by any person, including the State, insofar as the information is required for the exercise or protection of a right.

Further, the women argue that Section 70 (1) (c) of the Constitution also affords a suspect the right to be given adequate facilities to prepare a defence.

Manyonga also contend that the provisions they cited establish the two have a right to know who the informant is and what he or she told the police.

The two brought the constitutional application in terms of Section 175 (4) of the Constitution after the magistrate rejected their request to have the matter referred to the Constitutional Court on March 30.

They argue that the magistrate's refusal to refer the matter to the Constitutional Court was wrong in the circumstances and violated their right to approach the court.

Such right, they say, is enshrined in Section 69 (3) of the Constitution.

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