HUMAN Rights Lawyers have written to the Attorney-General demanding the immediate release of 12 Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters and two young children from unknown police camps this week.
The 12 from Banket were arrested and detained by police last month in unclear circumstances.
They include Fanuel Tambo, Fidelis Chiramba, Pieta Kaseke, Terry Musona, Agrippa, Lloyd Tarumbwa, Larry Gaka Emmanuel Chinansvavanu and his wife Concilia and their child, Ernest Mudimu, Tawanda Bvumo, Violet Mvuranhewe and Gwenzi Kahiya.
A letter written by legal practitioners Atherstone & Cook on behalf of other concerned lawyers expressed concern over failure by the ZRP to release 12 clients despite the force officially admitting that they arrested and detained the supporters.
The lawyers said: “Your clients —— in that case the Zimbabwe Republic Police —— have officially admitted they arrested and detained them on unclear charges allegedly investigated by Chief Superintendent Crispen Makedenge, officer in charge CID Homicide Section with Detective Sergeant Muusa of the same section.
“In view of ZRP’s claimed inability to find any of them in any cell, there are very serious concerns about the safety and health now of these missing persons.”
On November 11 Harare judge Justice Charles Hungwe issued a final order confirming the illegality of the continued detentions which required ZRP to produce and remand or release all 12 detained that same day.
“We trust you will immediately bring this to the attention of your clients and ensure that they make more strenuous efforts to meet the requirements of the court order now by locating and releasing the various applicants,” reads the letter.
The detained persons’ lawyer, Alec Muchadehama, said if the 12 were not produced, he would file an application at the High Court for contempt of court and make a report to the police under the Missing Persons Act.
“We appeal to anyone with information regarding the whereabouts of the missing MDC supporters to come forward and assist in strict confidence,” he said.
Muchadehama said other cases of MDC members that were still pending included that of MDC MP for Mbare Pineal Denga who is facing allegations of possessing explosives without a licence. Denga is still under trial and his case was further remanded to Tuesday next week.
Another case is of ex-army officer Tichaona Mudzingwa facing allegations of trying to cause disunity among members of the armed forces on March 31 2008. The trial was supposed to continue yesterday but was postponed to December 19 after a senior army officer Martin Chedondo who was supposed to testify did not appear in court.
Muchadehama said: “Chedondo said he could not testify because he was attending to special operations to do with security in Manicaland.”
MDC MP for Highfield, Pearson Mungofa who is facing the same charges as Mudzingwa, is expected to appear in court on November 27.
Muchadehama said four cases were withdrawn before plea due to lack of evidence while a number were still pending and no one yet has been convicted.
Meanwhile, MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti who appeared in
court this week had two of his four charges dropped before a Harare magistrate.
Biti’s lawyer, Advocate Lewis Uriri, said the charges dropped included insulting President Robert Mugabe and causing disaffection among the members of the armed forces.
Uriri said: “The publishing falsehoods to cause public disorder charge was also withdrawn but replaced with another. The state suggested that wanted the charges split for trial purposes and dates were set between December 17 and 18.
“We however objected to that on the basis that the three other charges emanated from the same document and that the state was avoiding our application of reprisal of remand of Biti and that it breached Biti’s protection of the law.
“We also asked the state to provide reasons as to why they wanted the charges split and they said they would act over the reasons thus remanded to December 4.”
By Wongai Zhangazha