By Tichaona Sibanda
SW Radio Africa
13 June 2014
Three years ago police inspector Petros Mutedza died at Glen View 3 shopping centre, in either a political skirmish involving members of the public, or falling off a police vehicle when it was fleeing the mob.
The authorities used the opportunity to round up 29 MDC-T activists in May 2011, who they claimed were responsible for the murder. They spent more than a year in custody waiting for the trial to begin. In September 2013 High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu acquitted 21 of the MDC-T supporters accused of murdering the cop. They were set free after the court ruled that none of the evidence put forward by the State implicated them in the murder charge.
Seven of the accused are still defending themselves in court after Justice Bhunu ruled that they had a case to answer. These are Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa, Last Maengahama, Lazarus Maengahama, Edwin Muingiri, Phineas Nhatarikwa, and Paul Rukanda. The trial resumed again this week.
Kumbirai Mafunda, senior project officer for the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, took to Facebook to vent his frustration over the trial.
‘In Zimbabwe, the wheels of justice move very slowly. Last Tamai Maengahama, Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa arrested in May 2011, three years later, they are still on trial. Zimbabwe….,’ wrote Mafunda.
Prominent Harare lawyer and politician Obert Gutu told SW Radio Africa that an accused person is entitled to a fair and speedy trial by a competent court of law.
‘Section 69 of the constitution of Zimbabwe specifically states that every accused person of an offence has the right to a fair and public trial within a reasonable time before an independent and impartial court,’ said Gutu.
Beatrice Mtetwa is one of the four lawyers representing the seven Glenview residents and this week she told High Court Judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu, that defence lawyers would subpoena engineers from Econet. This would be to confirm the evidence of Maengahama who had a call record showing his phone call history on the day the State prosecutor claimed he participated in the murder of Inspector Mutedza.
The court was also shown a DVD which showed Maengahama among congregants who attended a church service on the day the State says Inspector Mutedza was assaulted.
One newspaper reported a lighter moment when the court dissolved into laughter after Mtetwa queried the identity of the wife of MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai. This was after Maengahama said police had seized his MDC-T shirt inscribed with a picture of Tsvangirai’s wife, to which Mtetwa queried “which wife”.