PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s name has been dragged into a case in which former Bikita West MP Munyaradzi Kereke is making frantic efforts to secure his freedom, claiming the 14-year jail sentence he was slapped with for raping his minor niece, was politically motivated.
BY CHARLES LAITON
Kereke was in 2016 slapped with a 14-year jail term for sexually abusing his relatives’ then 11-year old daughter at gunpoint, but four years of his jail time were suspended on condition of good behaviour.
Since his incarceration, the former advisor to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe ex-governor Gideon Gono, has filed several applications seeking to be released on bail pending appeal against both conviction and sentence, but to no avail.
However, in February this year, following the new political dispensation, Kereke again filed another bail application bid based on changed circumstances stating the current leadership in government would understand that his incarceration was politically-motivated.
According to court papers, Kereke has already benefitted from the reduction of his jail term which was allegedly slashed by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Service (ZPCS) and had his classification altered from being a dangerous criminal to a mere class C prisoner.
In his response to Kereke’s application, the victim’s guardian lawyer Charles Warara, urged the court to dismiss the bail application and challenged the ZPCS to justify why Kereke’s sentence was tampered with.
“This is a scandal unfolding. As respondent (Francis Maramwidze) got to know, there are senior government officials who are working to ensure the applicant is released from jail. He has simply confirmed those statements made by leaders connected to him,” Warara said.
“If the ZPCS can chop off 40 months that means, all this was orchestrated to synchronise with the application for bail…..it will become meaningless for justice system to benefit rapists on the basis that a court sentence can be slashed by prison officials just like that…
“He (Kereke) told the trial court that he belonged to the Lacoste faction in Zanu PF and that the persecution he was facing was as a result of that. He admitted to be very close to the current President of Zimbabwe (Mnangagwa) and as such he might be using that influence in prison to continue his political protection.”
In his new application for bail, through his lawyer advocate Thabani Mpofu instructed by Mutandiro, Chitsanga and Chitima Attorneys, Kereke said he was now a good candidate for bail.
“The Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) have, taking into account applicant’s (Kereke) exemplary behaviour reclassified him from the D to the C class and he now qualifies to be admitted to Connemara Open Prison. That entitles him to be occasionally with his family,” Mpofu said.
“The conditions pertaining to the grant of bail have accordingly drastically altered. An applicant who is effectively entitled to serve his sentence at home is surely entitled as well to bail pending appeal.
“….ZPCS has further cut 40 months of the sentence he must serve through remissions. In reality, applicant has now directly served 18 months, 48 months were suspended on condition of good behaviour, a further 40 months have been interfered with on remission which leaves applicant with 38% of his sentence to serve. The risk of him absconding under the circumstances has been diminished to the point of extinction.”
Mpofu further said: “It is also clear that the arrival of the new political dispensation has an effect on the political persecution that he has always alleged…. It was enjoined to do so once the evidence established that Dr (Gideon) Gono had been in touch with Maramwidze and made certain offers.
Surprisingly the court does not deal with that angle at all. It just rejects it in a cursory fashion and for no reasons set out.”
After receiving a response to the bail bid, his lawyers wrote a letter dated February 22, 2018 addressed to the Registrar (Criminal Division) of the High Court advising that Kereke was withdrawing his application indefinitely.
“This matter is before his Lordship Foroma J and was postponed at the instance of the respondent to February 23, 2018. We write to give notice of our intention to postpone the bail application indefinitely. The reason for the postponement is that there are issues arising out of the respondent’s opposition in relation to his classification, remission of his sentence and issue of transfer that we intend to respond to in writing by way of a replication attaching the relevant evidence from ZPCS,” Kereke’s lawyers said.