Zimbabwe Abductions: Further Developments Relating to Individuals Subjected to Enforced Disappearanc

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On 24 December 2008 eight (8) of the current total of thirty-two (32) individuals abducted over the last seven (7) weeks were brought to the Magistrates' Court in Harare under armed guard.

These individuals were Jestina Mukoko, Broderick
Takawira, Violet Mupfuranhehwe, Fidelis Chiramba, Collen Mutemagau,
Concillia Chinanzvavana, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana, and Pieta Kaseke. Also
present was the two-year old minor, Nigel Mutemagau, who has been
missing all along as he was with his parents (Violet Mupfuranhehwe and
Collen Mutemagau), when they were unlawfully abducted on 30 October
2008.

Investigating Officer Chief Superintendent Magwenzi (who was present
throughout the day at the Magistrates' Court) refused to disclose to
lawyers the whereabouts and condition of the remainder of the
abductees, despite having advised lawyers the previous day that he was
responsible as the Investigating Officer for all the abductees
currently in custody.

Senior officials from the Attorney-General's office, Florence Ziyambi
and Tawanda Zvekare, refused to provide lawyers with the charges and
relevant information from the dockets relating to these 8 individuals
until the matter commenced in court in the afternoon.

In the meantime, at least one (1) further abductee, Zacharia Nkomo, was
in custody under the responsibility of Chief Superintendent Makedenge
at Harare Central police station, Homicide section, where he had a
warned and cautioned statement recorded in the absence of his lawyers,
and was not brought to court.

The proceedings in the Magistrates' Court, where Ziyambi and Zvekare
were attempting to have the 8 abductees placed on remand, were
suspended by Regional Magistrate, Mishrod Guvamombe, as an Urgent
Application had been filed in the morning in the High Court and was due
to be heard at 16:00hrs on the same day. Mr. Guvamombe advised on
record that he would abide by the outcome of the High Court hearing and
would not deal with anything apart from matters (if any) not
subsequently dealt with by the High Court. The 8 abductees and the
minor child were removed from the Magistrates' Court and taken to
Harare Remand Prison (although they were not formally placed on remand
at that time and are still considered to be abductees by their legal
practitioners).

In the High Court, the Urgent Application (reference Jestina Mukoko
& 31 Others v Commissioner-General of Police and Chief
Superintendent Magwenzi HC 7166/2008) was heard by the Honorable Mr.
Justice Yunus Omerjee. The Respondents were represented by legal
adviser Chief Superintendent Nzombe and Deputy Attorney General, Prince
Machaya. All Applicants were represented by Mrs. Beatrice Mtetwa, on
behalf of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

Chief Superintendent Magwenzi, who twice attempted to avoid service of
legal process at the Magistrates' Court in the presence of his
colleagues from the Law and Order section and a number of lawyers, did
not appear before the Court to explain his actions and those of his
colleagues in whose custody all the abductees currently found
themselves.

Mr. Justice Omerjee granted a Final Order which essentially provided as follows:-

The detention of Violet Mupfuranhehwe, Fidelis Chiramba, Collen
Mutemagau, Concillia Chinanzvavana, Emmanuel Chinanzvavana and Pieta
Kaseke (all of whom had earlier appeared in the Magistrates' Court
where the state representatives had attempted to place them on remand)
was unlawful, as previously held in court proceedings before Mr.
Justice Hungwe (ref: HC 6420/08). Police were acting in contempt of
Hungwe J's Order, and they should release all these individuals
forthwith.

The minor child, Nigel Mutemagau, was also to be immediately released.

Fanwell Tembo, Larry Gaka, Terry Musona, Agrippa Kakonda, and Lloyd
Tarumbwa, who were also covered by Hungwe J's earlier Order, should
also be released forthwith.

Jestina Mukoko and Broderick Takawira were to be released forthwith to
Avenues Clinic under police guard, where they should be accorded full
access to their legal practitioners and relatives, and where they
should remain until 29 December 2008, when they should be taken
directly to the Magistrates' Court (where their placement on remand is
to be challenged by their legal representatives).

Gandi Mudzingwa, Andrison Shadreck Manyere, Zacharia Nkomo, Mapfumo
Garutsa, Chinoto Zulu, Regis Mujeyi and Chris Dhlamini, who it
transpired were being held on the strength of Warrants of Further
Detention, were also to be released forthwith to Avenues Clinic under
police guard where they should be accorded full access to their legal
practitioners and relatives, and where they should remain until 29
December 2008, when they should be taken directly to the Magistrates'
Court (again, where their placement on remand is to be challenged by
their legal representatives).

The continued detention of the remainder of the abductees, namely
Pascal Gonzo, Gwenzi Kahiya, Lovemore Machokota, Charles Muza, Tawanda
Bvumo, Ephraim Mabeka, Edmore Vangirayi, Peter Munyanyi, Bothwell
Pasipamire, Graham Matehwa and Mr. Makwezadzimba, was declared
unlawful, and they should be released forthwith.

The fact that Warrants of Further Detention were issued in respect of 7
abductees was only brought to the attention of their legal
representatives once the proceedings in the High Court were underway.
The Warrants were signed by Magistrate Cathrine Chimanda, which is
extremely disturbing, as many of the abductees to whom they relate are
subjects of court orders for investigation into their disappearance and
their production before the High Court upon being located.

Mr. Justice Omerjee's Order was served upon Mr. Machaya of the
Attorney-General's office and Chief Superintendent Nzombe of Police
General Headquarters, both of whom were also present when the Order was
granted and who were strongly encouraged by the judge to ensure that
the Order would be respected and implemented in full at the earliest
opportunity possible. The Order was also made known to Mrs. Ziyambi and
Mr. Zvekare, both of whom attended at the High Court to consult with
Mr. Machaya and were advised of the outcome of the proceedings. Mr.
Nzombe later confirmed that the contents of the Order had been advised
to Chief Superintendent Magwenzi. As a result of this Order, the
warrants of detention signed by Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe should
also have been cancelled at the earliest opportunity and those in
Remand prison liberated.

Despite the undertakings made by the Respondents' representatives and
clear knowledge of the court order, as has become the unfortunate norm,
no attempts were made to comply with the Order. In a disturbing
development, when lawyers attempted to follow up action on 25 December
2008, they were advised that the abductees who were being held at
Harare Remand Prison had been removed from the prison to an undisclosed
location in a red minibus by unknown individuals, under escort of riot
police. What is further disturbing is the fact that this minibus bears
a South African licence plate number. Lawyers are continuing with
attempts to locate all the abductees and to investigate why a South
African licensed vehicle is being used in connection with enforced
disappearances which are contrary to international law and which South
Africa have outlawed.

ZLHR sees this removal of abductees from prisons and police stations as
a clear attempt to subvert a High Court Order and to ensure that the
abductees are unable to receive medical treatment and have access to
their lawyers and relatives before they are brought to the Magistrates'
Court on 29 December 2008.

On Christmas Day, when most people are celebrating a religious holiday
at home with their families and friends, individuals with absolute
contempt for the role and authority of the courts of Zimbabwe are
continuing with their criminal behaviour and subverting justice.

Legal advisers to the police, members of the Attorney-General's office,
and judicial officers who have been named in this release must
understand their role in, and constitutional responsibility for,
ensuring that state functionaries respect court orders and adhere to
their instructions. If they do not perform their functions diligently
then they are equally responsible and must be held accountable for
contempt of court together with such functionaries. It is high time
that state counsel and judicial officers assert their authority as
representatives of supposedly independent state institutions and ensure
that all people are protected against the might of the state.

These abductees are human beings. They have been subjected to the most
cruel and inhuman treatment, and have had, and continue to have, all
their fundamental rights and freedoms violated. It is unclear how our
society will continue to function in this disturbingly insecure era
where no person's dignity and rights are respected and in which state
institutions have been stripped of all their authority in order to give
effect to the whims of an all-powerful executive arm of government.

UPDATED LIST OF CONFIRMED DETENTIONS (Last known locations)

JESTINA MUKOKO – Harare Remand prison

CONCILIA CHINHANZVANA – Harare Remand prison

EMMANUEL CHINHANZVANA – Harare Remand prison

PIETA KASEKE – Harare Remand prison

GANDHI MUDZINGWA – Highlands police station

ZACHARIA NKOMO – Stodart police station

MAPFUMO GARUTSA – Mbare police station

REGIS MUJEYI – Matapi police station

PASCAL GONZO – Rhodesville police station

BRODERICK TAKAWIRA – Braeside police station

NIGEL MUTEMAGAWU (2 Year Old minor) – Harare Remand prison

TAWANDA BVUMO – Rhodesville police station

VIOLET MUPFURANHEHWE – Harare Remand prison

MR. MAKWEZADZIMBA – Braeside police station

ANDRISON SHADRECK MANYERE – Rhodesville police station

CHINOTO ZULU – Braeside police station

CHRIS DHLAMINI – Hatfield police station

WHEREABOUTS STILL UNCONFIRMED

AGRIPPA KAKONDA – GWENZI KAHIYA

LOVEMORE MACHOKOTA – CHARLES MUZA

EPHRAIM MABEKA – EDMORE VANGIRAYI

PETER MUNYANYI – BOTHWELL PASIPAMIRE

GRAHAM MATEHWA – MR. MAKWEZADZIMBA

Press Release by Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights

Post published in: Politics

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