Maguwu released


Farai Maguwu, the human rights activist arrested over a month ago for allegedly peddling falsehoods regarding human rights violations at the controversial Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange, was finally granted bail yesterday at the High Court.
His release comes ahead of a World Diamond Council (WDC) meeting in Russia tomorrow where the future of Zimbabwe’s diamonds will be decided.
Maguwu’s release also comes after stakeholders in the diamond industry, who comprise the bulk of delegates at the Russian gathering, had given his release as one of the preconditions for the certification of the Chiadzwa diamonds by the Kimberley Process (KP).
Freeing Maguwu on bail, High Court judge Justice Garainesu Mawadze said the prosecution had failed to give good reason why the director of Centre for Research and Development should be denied bail.
“In my view, the charges are very simple, clear and straightforward,” the judge said. “They involve publication of falsehoods prejudicial to the state. The presumption of innocence operates in favour of the appellant; in other words, grounds for refusal of bail should be substantiated.”
A visibly relieved Maguwu yesterday paid tribute to his legal team for securing his release.
“I am very happy and grateful to the legal team, family members and everybody else who helped me regain my freedom,” he said.
Maguwu was freed on stringent bail conditions which included depositing $1 500 with the courts. As part of the bail, he is obliged to surrender his passport, reside at his home until the finalisation of this matter, report to Mutare Central Police Station every day and not to interfere with state witnesses. Maguwu was also restricted from travelling beyond a 40km radius of Mutare and may only travel to Harare to attend his court case.
Maguwu’s timely release is expected to add weight to Zimbabwe’s desperate bid to get the KP certification. The KP failed to reach a consensus on whether the diamonds from Chiadzwa should be certified or not during their meeting in Tel Aviv, Israel, last month and deferred the matter to the WDC meeting in Russia.
Zimbabwe has stockpiled diamonds worth $1, 6 billion, an amount desperately needed to help resuscitate the economy.
The WDC meeting is expected to break the impasse that occurred at the last KP Intersessional meeting in Tel Aviv.
Pressure from international groups and Western countries was mounting on the government to release Maguwu.
After the judge handed down his ruling there were smiles of contentment as family members openly expressed their excitement. Maguwu’s brother expressed his happiness at his brother’s release.
“I, as his brother, am very happy and so is every member of the family” said Innocent Maguwu. “I know my mother is happy in Mutare. She has been praying for his freedom ever since he was arrested.”