Maguwu to remain behind bars


Human rights activist Farai Maguwu who stands accused of peddling falsehoods to a diamond monitor regarding activities at the Chiadzwa gem fields was yesterday denied bail by the High Court.
Upholding and earlier decision by the magistrates’ court to keep Maguwu behind bars, High Court Judge Chinembiri Bhunu said the offence carried a maximum penalty of 20 years if found guilty and that the accused was said to be making a living out of peddling falsehoods.
“That kind of behavior if proved is treacherous and abominable particularly in these times of national economic strife” Bhunu ruled.
He said the lower court was right in denying Maguwu bail. Bhunu went on to say that he had been persuaded by the prosecution’s arguments that the state’s case was not weak as evidenced by documents before him.
“The evidence is in my view damning unless some witnesses turn hostile or are severely discredited, suffice to say at this stage the available evidence points to a strong case against the appellant.” Bhunu said.
“It is my considered view that no one has the right to publish false information or statements to the detriment of others, if it were so that would make nonsense of the law of defamation and perjury.”
Documents Bhunu referred to contain statistics of purported victims of abuses at Chiadzwa, names of perpetrators, hospital records and treatment reports of the victims which Maguwu is alleged to have authored.
The state is alleging that an e-mail written CRD Chiadzwa April report from Tor-Hugne Olsen to Maguwu and copied to Anton Dekker and Gabriel Shumba was also recovered at Maguwu’s residence.
The e-mail sought clarification from Maguwu on contents of documents marked Grant number ECEZ/FL030 entitled March 2010 progress report, the state alleged.
From this document, the state alleges it clearly shows that the report was sent to Anton Dekker and Gabriel Shumba presenting false statements prejudicial to the state.
The state further alleges Maguwu had a meeting with the Kimberley Process monitor, Abbey Chikane, a South African businessman assessing whether Zimbabwe had met the minimum standards of the Kimberley Process, a UN-backed initiative intended to halt illegal trade in diamonds.
Chikane is alleged to have defended himself for passing on information he got from Maguwu to the state saying he did not approve of the way it was obtained.
Prominent human rights groups have alleged severe and recurring abuses, including extrajudicial killings, on the diamond fields and that diamonds were being smuggled out of the area with the knowledge and participation of officials.
Maguwu is expected to re-appear at the Harare Magistrate Court for routine remand on June 23.
He is an executive director with the Centre for Research and Development.
Maguwu was arrested on June 3 on allegations of publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31 (a) (ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.