Media barred from covering Gushungo bombing saga

The gag order obtained by the military intelligence director’s office at the High Court in the on-going criminal matter involving its military personnel, was yesterday put into force by High Court judge Justice Garainesu Mawadze, who dismissed media and legal practitioners and members of the public from following the court proceedings.

BY CHARLES LAITON

Justice Mawadze’s move came a few days after the same order had been dismissed by Harare provincial magistrate Vakai Chikwekwe on the basis that it had been improperly obtained.

The two military personnel, who have been in custody since last month – Solomon Makumbe and Silas Pfupa – yesterday appeared again at the High Court, seeking bail on treason charges emanating from a foiled bombing of President Robert Mugabe’s personal company, Gushungo Diary plant last month.

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However, before the matter could be heard, Justice Mawadze called for the pair’s court record and announced the hearing was to be conducted in camera (privately) following an order by his fellow judge.

The two suspects are now being represented by a Harare lawyer who identified herself to the court as G Dzitiro, while the State is represented by Clemence Chimbari.

On Friday last week and in an urgent High Court chamber application, the military was granted an order to have the proceedings held in camera and the media gagged from reporting even from the record of events.

However, the military’s bid fell by the way side at the magistrates’ court when Chikwekwe dismissed the order, saying it was meant to usurp his powers and had an effect of directing him on how to conduct the trial.

“The order leaves a lot to be desired. Any application should have been first made in the court aquo (this court). Therefore the order is wrong both at law and in fact,” Chikwekwe ruled.

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