ZIMRIGHTS Highfield chapter chairperson Dorcas Shereni and her co-accused Tatenda Chinaka and Farai Bhani have been convicted of manufacturing fake voter registration certificates.
REPORT BY PHILLIP CHIDAVAENZI
The three were convicted yesterday and will be sentenced today.
Prosecutor Michael Reza urged Harare magistrate Donald Ndirowei to sentence them to at least five years in prison.
Reza said the three had been convicted of “very serious offences” against extraordinary circumstances because they tampered with the voters’ roll and any government was “constituted as a result of elections that come through the voters’ roll”.
“The court should not lose sight of the fact that this involved the nation of Zimbabwe, not individuals, and its effects are still being felt because the legitimacy of the (July 31 harmonised) elections has been questioned. Some nations have said that they will not recognise the outcome because the voters’ roll was in shambles,” Reza said.
ZimRights, its director Okay Machisa, and the organisation’s programmes manager Leo Chamahwinya were acquitted at the close of the State case in June.
In mitigation, Bhani’s lawyer, Tonderai Bhatasara, said his client, who is in custody, was a first offender, had accrued no monetary benefit from the offence and his taxi business collapsed after his arrest so the court should be lenient with him.
Chinaka, through his lawyer Tavengwa Masara, said in mitigations that he was his family’s sole breadwinner and was looking after his terminally ill mother.
Trust Maanda, who is representing Shereni, said his client, who walks with the aid of crutches, had 75% disability and incarceration would be tantamount to a death sentence as she could only survive in environments friendly to her condition.
In response, Reza argued that it was unfortunate that although the accused persons were first offenders, they had opted to start their criminal careers at the deep end.