Lawyers Under Siege as Court Sets Free Opposition Party Leaders Arrested on...

Lawyers Under Siege as Court Sets Free Opposition Party Leaders Arrested on Allegations of Singing in CBD

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ZIMBABWEAN authorities have stepped up their crackdown against legal practitioners by questioning and arresting several lawyers and charging them with defeating or obstructing the course of justice during the execution of their professional duties.

On Sunday 7 June 2020, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members arrested and charged Harare-based lawyer Tapiwa Makanza with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Makanza, who was represented by Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) and who appeared at Harare Magistrates Court on Monday 8 June 2020, was accused by prosecutors of creating a fictitious person Simbarashe Zuze, who is the person who in January 2019 filed an application in the Constitutional Court challenging President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s appointment of Kumbirai Hodzi as Prosecutor-General as he did not score high marks during interviews conducted by Judicial Service Commission.

The 38 year-old Makanza, who was granted RTGS$20 000 bail and ordered to report at ZRP Anti-Corruption Unit and to continue residing at his given residential address, returns to court on 10 July 2020.

On Monday 8 June 2020, Joshuwa Chirambwe was also granted RTGS$20 000 bail when he appeared at Harare Magistrates Court after he was arrested and charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. He was ordered to report at ZRP Anti-Corruption Unit and to continue residing at his given residential address.

The 28 year-old Chirambwe, who is represented by Obey Shava of ZLHR, was accused of conniving with Advocate Thabani Mpofu to obstruct any investigations into the existence of Zuze upon realising that the initial application tendered by Advocate Mpofu in the Constitutional Court was struck off the court’s roll on 6 February 2020.

He returns to court on 10 July 2020.

Advocate Choice Damiso and Harare-based lawyer Lawman Chimuriwo were also quizzed by ZRP members on Saturday 6 June 2020 and on Monday 8 June 2020 with reports that the state intends to turn them into state witnesses in the case of Advocate Mpofu, Makanza and Chirambwe.

On Saturday 6 June 2020, Bulawayo-based lawyer Dumisani Dube, who was arrested and charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(d) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act, was granted RTGS$5 000 bail when he appeared at Bulawayo Magistrates Court.

Dube, who was represented by Prince Bhutshe-Dube and assisted by Godfrey Nyoni of ZLHR returns to court on 18 June 2020.

Charges against Dube arose from a matter wherein Dube represented his client and filed an urgent chamber application at the Bulawayo High Court, and obtained an order in favour of his client.

According to the state, Dube allegedly filed a fake certificate of service purporting to have served one of the Respondents in the matter, when he had not, and thereafter proceeded to obtain an order by default.

The arrest of Dube, Makanza and Chirambwe brings to four the number of lawyers who have been apprehended in just one week after Advocate Mpofu was arrested and charged on the same allegation of defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in
section 184(1)(d) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Advocate Mpofu, who was represented by Beatrice Mtetwa and Raymond Moyo of ZLHR, was also charged with corruptly concealing a transaction from a principal as defined in section 172(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and perjury as defined in section 183(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Advocate Mpofu returns to court on 10 July 2020.

Meanwhile, Harare Magistrate Bianca Makwande on Saturday 6 June 2020 granted RTGS$1 000 bail each to six opposition MDC-Alliance party leaders, who were arrested on Friday 5 June 2020 and charged with criminal nuisance as defined in section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and with contravening some national lockdown regulations.

The six MDC-Alliance party leaders, who include Vice-President Tendai Biti aged 53 years, Vice-President Lynette Karenyi aged 45 years-old, Deputy Secretary-General David Chimhini aged 70 years, Gladys Hlatshwayo aged 36 years, 34 year-old Lovemore Chinoputsa, the Deputy Secretary for International Relations, and 50 year-old Vongai Tome, the Secretary for Mobilisation in the opposition party’s Women’s Assembly were represented by Beatrice Mtetwa, Alec Muchadehama and Jeremiah Bamu of ZLHR.

Prosecutors said the six MDC-Alliance leaders contravened section 5(3)(a) as read with section 5(1) of Statutory Instrument 83/2020 as amended by section 4(a) of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment (National Lockdown 2020) as amended by Amendment Order number 8 of the regulation, which prohibits gatherings of more than 50 individuals in a public place during the national lockdown period declared by government.

On the alternative charge of criminal nuisance as defined in section 46 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with paragraph 2(v) of the third Schedule to the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, prosecutors alleged that the opposition party leaders allegedly interfered with the ordinary comfort, convenience, peace or quiet of the public.

The prosecutors alleged that the six MDC-Alliance party leaders gathered outside Morgan Tsvangirai House in Harare’s central business district and blocked Nelson Mandela Avenue and sang a protest song with the lyrics “kana ndafa nehondo”, which if loosely translated means “I am prepared to die”.

Mtetwa, Muchadehama and Bamu notified Magistrate Makwande that they will challenge the placement on remand of their clients when they return to court.

 

ENDS

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights
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www.zlhr.org.zw
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