Outrage over MDC activists' jail terms

HARARE - The MDC has said it is outraged and dismayed by the 20-year jail terms passed on the party’s three activists by the High Court, vowing it will appeal the sentences at the Supreme Court.

The party claimed the “heavy sentences are politically-motivated and meant to quell dissent of people opposed to Zanu PF’s misrule”.

The three — Yvonne Musarurwa, Last Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere — were handed down the sentences by judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu over the 2011 murder of police inspector Petros Mutedza in Glen View.

Mutedza was pummelled by stones at Glen View 3 Shopping Centre during a scuffle between police and MDC supporters following a rally and died on admission at Harare Central Hospital.

“The MDC has been utterly shocked and dismayed by Justice Chinembiri Bhunu’s decision to sentence our cadres. Right from the outset, this case has been heavily politicised essentially because the learned judge took more than three years to convict our comrades after a lengthy trial,” said MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu.

“As a party, we maintain that our comrades are not guilty of the crime of murder nor of any competent verdict thereunder. As such, our legal team has already been instructed to note an appeal against both conviction and sentence in the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe,” he said.

Gutu said “one of the biggest threats to the rule of law in Zimbabwe is the blatant politicisation of the criminal justice delivery system, adding that “over the years, many MDC cadres have been victimised and unfairly criminalised by a criminal justice delivery system that is biased against anyone who is a political opponent of the oppressive and corrupt Zanu PF regime”.

“It is obvious that Yvonne Musarurwa, Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengehama are being unfairly and cruelly victimised for their resolute and consistent defiance against Zanu PF brutality, political oppression and tyranny,” he said.

Zimbabwe Women in Politics Alliance director Linda Masarira said the sentence passed on the trio is an indication of the lack of judicial freedom in the country.

“Zimbabwean women will be further intimidated and discouraged to freely participate in politics, an impediment which is a direct attack to democracy and equally calls for befitting reaction from  the citizens, pressure groups, political parties, activists,” Masarira said.

Pressure group Tajamuka also expressed disgust at the sentence, arguing that innocent people are being persecuted.

“Their only crime is to fight for justice, freedom, respect of fundamental human rights and democracy. We urge the Supreme Court to exercise its sober judgment and reverse such an act of judicial barbarism. It is with no doubt and our firm belief that the High Court acted unfairly and unjustly,” the group said in a statement.

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