MDC officials face insurgency trial

HARARE - Seven Zimbabwean men accused of plotting an insurgency in 2008 are set to stand trial after their application for stay of prosecution was struck off the roll by the Supreme Court on Monday.

Six of the suspects, Kisimusi Dhlamini, Gandhi Mudzingwa, Zachariah Nkomo, Chinoto Zulu, Mapfumo Garutsa, Regis Mujeyi are MDC officials and are jointly charged with photo journalist Andrison Manyere. They were formally charged in December 2008.

Prosecution accused them of plotting insurgency, banditry, sabotage or terrorism or alternatively malicious damage to property.

They spent two years waiting for their trial to commence, before approaching the Supreme Court seeking a stay of prosecution on the basis that they had been abducted and tortured by state security agents.

They claimed their fundamental rights had been violated by being tortured and treated in a degrading manner.

According to the application, the abductees alleged they were taken to Goromonzi Prison.

They were allegedly denied access to their families, legal counsel and medical treatment.

However, the court struck the matter off the roll, after ruling that the suspects should have raised exception to the charges when they were initially placed on remand before a magistrate.

“The Supreme Court would then have decided whether the decision to place the applicants on remand was a violation of their right to the protection of the law under Section 18 (1) of the Constitution,” the Supreme Court ruled. “They did not invoke the provisions of Section 24 (2) of the Constitution at the time they ought to have done.

“Prima facie, in finding that there was a reasonable suspicion that the applicants committed the offences with which they were charged, the magistrate did not violate the applicants’ right to personal liberty.”

The Supreme Court said the suspects accepted the legality of the decision to place them on remand.

The suspects only raised issues when trial was set to commence before the High Court.

The Supreme Court further said it was no longer necessary for the High Court to place the suspects on remand, after the decision had already been made by the Magistrates’ Court.

“The applicants were before the High Court for trial on the basis of the decision that there was reasonable suspicion of their having committed the offences with which they were charged.

“Accordingly, the matter is struck off the roll with no order as to costs,” the Supreme Court ruled.

Alec Muchadehama of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners represented the suspects, while Chris Mutangadura appeared for the State.

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