Reporters barred from murder trial

HARARE - A top police officer yesterday barred reporters from covering a case in which 29 MDC activists are accused of killing a policeman in Harare’s Glen View suburb.

Charles Ngirishi, a police chief superintendent, claimed it was a directive from the Attorney General’s office. Police in riot gear kept a heavy presence at the court.

Ngirishi ordered journalists to vacate the courtroom as the trial resumed at the Harare Magistrates Court’s Victim Friendly Court (VFC).

Ngirishi said since the matter was being held in camera, journalists were not welcome.

The case was moved to the Harare Magistrates’ Courts after the State said one of its witnesses, Edinah Chihota, was uncomfortable giving evidence in an open court, claiming she had received threats from unknown people.

Logistics were put in place and a gazette was published for the High Court to use VFC facilities at the Harare Magistrates Court.

High Court judge Chinembiri Bhunu last December freed 21 activists on bail after noting that the State’s case “has weaknesses and inconsistencies”.

Bhunu said there were special circumstances warranting the freeing of the 21 activists, leaving five others in custody.

The activists are charged with murder or alternatively public violence as defined in Sections 47 and 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act. - Tendai Kamhungira

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