ZimRights officials sent back to remand

HARARE - Two ZimRights officials accused of manufacturing fake copies of voter registration certificates have been sent back to remand prison after a Harare magistrate said she can only rule on their bail application tomorrow.

The two, Dorcas Shereni, 42 and Leo Chamahwinya, 28 are employed by ZimRights as chairperson and programme manager respectively. They are jointly charged and detained with 38-year-old taxi driver Farai Bhani and Tatenda Chinaka, 42, who is unemployed.

When the four first appeared before Harare magistrate Anita Tshuma on Monday they complained that police had detained them beyond the legal limit of 48 hours. The state produced warrants for further detention to counter the allegation.

They are accused of forgery and conspiracy to commit fraud or publishing false statements prejudicial to the State.

The State alleges the four produced fake copies of voter registration certificates between May and this month in a bid to defraud the Registrar General’s office.

The court heard the quartet allegedly used false names to complete the registration forms.

It is alleged Bhani registered as a voter in May and acquired a certificate of registration, which the ZimRights officials allegedly duplicated to create several fake ones.

According to court papers, Chamahwinya would allegedly use the completed fake documents at ZimRights offices for their analysis, which they would use to criticise and tarnish the Registrar General’s office, it is claimed.

The court heard there was a possibility that the misrepresentation could cause “bloodshed or a chaotic situation in Zimbabwe” if the fake documents were only detected during the 2013 general elections.

However, Bhani is facing a separate charge in which he is jointly charged with Ephraim Matiza, 32 and Monarch Chibiku, 27.

The trio is facing charges of possessing articles for criminal use. The State alleges the three were found in possession of voter registration forms, fake drivers’ licences, birth certificates, passports and marriage certificates among other documents believed to have been used in duping members of the public. - Tendai Kamhungira

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