Trial of Chikurubi 14 postponed to 15 October 2008

FOURTEEN members of Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) appeared yesterday morning, 26th August, before Magistrate Doris Shomwe in Harare Magistrate's Court.

They had been arrested near the Zambian Embassy in Harare on 28 May 2008, where they were to hand over a petition to the SADC chair calling for an end to post-election violence.

Magistrate Shomwe allowed the state’s application for the trial to be postponed to 15 October 2008 on grounds that the prosecutor, Zvekare, who was familiar with the case, had fallen ill and could not be in court.

Harrison Nkomo, the defence lawyer, had requested that the group be removed off remand on the grounds that the state was obviously not prepared as they had failed to deliver the court papers by 18th August as promised and the continued appearances in court were prejudicial to the accused. He also argued that the state had not provided any evidence that Zvekare was actually ill, what he was suffering from and how long he had been ill for.

The replacement prosecutor Kaka had the activists speechless with his antics. He insisted that the state was ready to proceed and could immediately hand over copies of the docket but when the defence followed him to his office following the hearing; it became apparent that the docket is not complete.

Just another day in a politicised court system. WOZA look forward to the day there will be a democratic transition in Zimbabwe that results in the judiciary and police being depoliticised so that long-harassed human rights defenders can access a just and fair legal system. – Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA) – news release 27th August 2008

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