By Staff Reporter
Opposition MDC activists Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama have finally been acquitted by the Supreme Court
This is after 8 years in jail for a crime they didn’t commit
In December 2016, they were conveniently convicted for the murder of a police officer in Glenview in a case popularly referred to as Glenview 29 otherwise Case HH523-16 State vs Madzokere and others, after trial running for more than 5 years. The 3 were victims of the indiscriminate arrests of MDC Activists including some who were not even in Zimbabwe, let alone Glenview, after the mysterious death of a police officer who was part of a team deployed to diffuse an MDC visibility program at Glenview 3 shops in 2011.
After arrests, some of the suspects provided alabis which were checked and confirmed by the police yet kept in prison for more than 2 years before being finally granted bail. Besides the convicted individuals there were popular figures in the MDC including Solomon Madzore, Rebecca Mafikeni who sadly died in remand as well as human rights activist Cynthia Manjoro who had never set foot at the said activity. The fourth accused in the case, Pheneas Nhatarikwa, who was convicted of a lesser charge of being an accessory to public violence escaped jail with a $500 fine.
A glimpse on the porosity of the judgment in this case can be best summarized by the circumstances surrounding Tungamirai and Last.
· Last was a National Executive member of the MDC at the time of arrest.
· Tunga was a Glenview Ward 32 councillor
· Last was controversially “positively identified” by a state witness as having had been present when the police officer died yet:
There is overwhelming evidence including video which positively locates him at church. Evidence from Cellphone base stations supported the overwhelming evidence with showing calls he made during the time the scuffle was going on in Glenview.
· The Trial judge doesn’t make a factual finding of who killed the police officer specifically in other words the fatal blow on the 3 people he convicted but relies on the doctrine of common purpose, he concludes that the policemen was killed by MDC people who wanted an MDC activity to continue so anyone who was identified by a police officer (witness) as being present was convicted on that ground. In his own words in Sentencing the two, Judge Bunu of the High Court said: “…….This renders all the three accused persons liable to minimum mandatory sentence of 20 years imprisonment. I did not intend to exceed the minimum mandatory sentence because none of them delivered the fatal blow.”
· Last has a visible mark on the face making him easy to identify by even people who have never seen him before. It only required the witness to be told to look for somebody with a mark on the face in an identification parade…….What about the indiscriminate arrests of other people who were not even at the scene.
· Tunga’s crime is “leadership” in Glenview
After the conviction a notice of appeal was filed upon which bail pending appeal was applied for, but was denied by the trial judge at the high court. Two grounds of denial stand out:
· Firstly the judge argued that a convicted individual is a flight risk therefore not a good candidate for bail. This is against a background that the two at one point and abided by the bail conditions until the trial was “Finalized”.
· Secondly in an expected defense of his trial decision the judge argued that there were no prospects of success on appeal. We know what transpired in the Supreme Court hearing and are convinced the two do not deserve any more time in prison.
The loud cry for the Glenview 2 for freedom have become louder by day. They have been incarcerated for the past 4 years in addition to years they spent locked up on remand. The integrity of our courts will be seriously compromised by this apparent delay in the pronouncement of the ruling.
The loud cry for the Glenview 2 for freedom have become louder by day.
Last and Tunga’s Families are under stress and call for justice.
The courts must address the plight of the Glenview 2.
Let the appeal ruling be pronounced while they enjoy their freedom