Magistrate blasts State over ‘shoddy investigations’

Protesters mainly youths at the Warren Park round about last week

BY own correspondent

CHITUNGWIZA magistrate Joshua Mawere on Tuesday blasted the State for shoddily investigating a case in which 18 residents appeared in court charged with public violence.

The residents were arrested in connection with looting of an OK Supermarket and a pharmacy in St Mary’s during last month’s Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)-organised stayaway.

Mawere said the poor investigations had compelled the court, with a bleeding heart, to release some guilty people due to insufficient evidence.

He then acquitted Beatrice Bangajena, Patience Zvingwa, Esnath Mapisa, Fanos Nemaruru, Elliot Gweshe Ncube, Godfrey Nyashanu, Phineas Kamuriwo and Esther Paradzai.

The accused’s lawyer Freddy Masarirevhu had made an application for discharge at the close of the State case, arguing that prosecutors had failed to prove a prima facie case against his clients.

In the ruling, Mawere said the witnesses brought before the court by the State lacked cohesion and consistency and appeared unaware of what they were expected to do.

“Furthermore, it is judicial notice that the public violence occurred across Chitungwiza. However, it is mesmerising if not transfixing or rather hypnotising as to why the State chose to limit the scope of the investigations to OK Supermarket and the pharmacy,” he said.

“This most probably explains why most of the properties brought before the court as exhibits were not identified by the witnesses and why most of the accused persons remain not linked to the offence.”

The court ruled that the remaining accused Nyamadzawo Kamupira, Nigel Dongo Clegman Karavina be put to their defence.

The other accused had their cases withdrawn before the close of the State case.

In another matter, MDC Chitungwiza deputy mayor Jabulani Mtunzi, together with Richard Mutswiri, were freed on $100 bail on Wednesday by magistrate Nyasha Vhitorini.
Vhitorini ordered the pair to report twice a week at Makoni Police Station and to continue residing at their given addresses, adding that he would give written reasons for the ruling later.

The trial will commence today.

Mtunzi’s new lawyer Job Sikhala made fresh submissions in which he described the State’s case as frivolous since the arresting officers “had recused” themselves from the matter, leaving the State with one unreliable witness, who reported the matter 20 days after the alleged commission of the crime.

“The witness took 20 days to report to the police and we wonder why he could have been sitting on such crucial information that could have helped the State to maintain law and order.

“The court must look with suspicion to some of these witnesses,” Sikhala said.

The pair was arrested on Monday in a midnight raid by police on charges of allegedly inciting public violence, which led to the burning of a local police station during last month’s ZCTU-organised stayaway.

The State had opposed bail on the grounds that the two were a flight risk as there was overwhelming evidence against them that included a video.

It is the State case that on January 14, Mtunzi and others still at large, gathered at C Junction in Unit L and allegedly incited each other by shouting: “Let’s go and burn the police station.”

An informant, Tawanda Hongoro, who was passing by, later alerted the police, leading to the pair’s arrest.