High Court judges play hide & seek games in Mukoko abduction case

The Director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, Jestina Mukoko, was kidnapped from her Norton house on Wednesday morning but has not been found, despite human rights lawyers combing various police stations in and around Harare.

Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has been trying since Thursday to file an urgent
High Court application, to force police commissioner Augustine Chihuri
to release the prominent rights activist, but the courts are clearly
reluctant to deal with the matter.

Mtetwa told SW Radio Africa that one judge after another – all female –
declined to hear the matter, giving flimsy excuses. "All of them are
women and this is the week when we are trying to enter 16 days of
violence against women and you would have thought women judges would
want to stand up and be counted as being part of this activism but no,
no, no they haven’t."

She said three female judges either haven’t turned up to court to hear
the case or have announced that they were on leave and could not hear
the case.

The defense team said they tried to accost one of the judges in the car
park on Friday, only to be told that the matter would be heard Monday.

This is despite the fact that there were already some male judges at
the High Court who could have been assigned to hear the matter
urgently, but that didn’t happen. Mtetwa was told that the male judges
were either off duty or not based in Harare.

Mtetwa said she is extremely frustrated and this is the second illegal
abduction case she has had to deal with where the judiciary played

She said the last case was in April when MDC activist Tonderai Ndira
was abducted and the courts played the same games. Ndira was later
found murdered.

The outspoken rights lawyer added: "If any proof is required to
demonstrate that the rule of law has completely, completely broken down
in Zimbabwe – this is the case."

Another lawyer Otto Saki went with a team of legal practitioners to
police stations within and outside Harare such as Nyabhira and as far
away as Chinhoyi on Friday in search of Mukoko.

He said the feeling now was that she is not being held in an official
police station.  The rights lawyer ruled out criminal activities saying
the individuals who abducted Mukoko at 5am from her home produced a
firearm and introduced themselves to Mukoko’s gardener and son as
police officers.

Saki said: "If they were criminals I am yet to hear of criminals who
only take a half dressed woman and leave household goods and other

He said there has also been a pattern in the last few days of field
officers from the Zimbabwe Peace Project being harassed and arrested.
On Thursday Pascal Gonzo from the ZPP offices in Nyanga was briefly
arrested and released after being interrogated about ZPP operations.

The group has over the years documented human rights violations perpetrated in Zimbabwe.

In a related issue, several MDC activists and a two year old baby are
still missing, a month after they were kidnapped in the Zvimba area.
Two other activists were abducted last week in Harare and Norton. They
are also still missing.

SWRadio Africa

Post published in: Politics

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