Maguwu case: Lawyer slams ridiculous evidence

farai_maguwuThis week on Behind the Headlines SW Radio Africas LANCE GUMA spoke to Tinoziva Bere, one of the lawyers representing human rights activist Farai Maguwu. (Pictured)

Bere and his team watched helplessly as Mugabes regime put pressure on the legal system to keep Maguwu detained for nearly 40 days in remand prison. After huge domestic and international pressure the courts eventually freed Maguwu on bail.

LG: Detective Inspector Dowa is saying he wants to speak to the Kimberley Process monitor Abbey Chikane but we are seeing reports where Chikane is saying he has no intentions of meeting Dowa and even if they were to meet he would have nothing to say. Have you had sight or read these reports?

TB: I have not heard this report but what I know is that the report by Chikane to the Kimberley community clearly laid allegations which laid the basis for Farais arrest and when you read that report, Chikane is not a Zimbabwean lawyer but he enlisted the services of the police or the authorities to frame and record in his report criminal allegations against Farai.

We dont think that happened by accident, we think it was part of the plot to discredit the criticism that the government was facing. We have never believed Dowa when he said that he was going to South Africa to speak to Chikane because they had already spoken to Chikane, they were already given information by Chikane and by Dowas own testimony, Chikane surrendered documents that he gave to them before he left the country and for Dowa to say that he was going to South Africa to meet Chikane at a time when Dowa would have known that Chikane was in Tel Aviv attending the Kimberley meeting, is just ridiculous.

So we believe the excuse that he wanted to see Chikane was intended only for purposes of ensuring that they had an excuse that they were still investigating in order to keep Farai in jail.

LG: Now the other excuse they offered was that parts of the matter needed the involvement of Interpol and that they described these as extra-territorial investigations that needed to be made. Whats the status of those?

TB: You should have been in court when he gave that evidence and he was asked first and foremost to produce his passport to show he had gone to South Africa he then said he had no passport and he was asked how he had gone and he explained that the South African police had assisted him to border jump into South Africa which we all found to be ridiculous.

But the other strange contradiction of course was that he said that he had enlisted the services of Interpol. We all know that you would not ask Interpol to perform a task by word of mouth so he was asked to bring a copy of the instruction or request that he had sent to Interpol and he could not produce one so this is why I said I dont believe anything he said, it was an excuse to keep Farai in jail, there are no investigations of that nature going on.

And if Chikane says they have not been in touch with him and he has no plans to meet with them, he might be telling the truth because he has already done the damage to Farai. He has had Farai in prison for 40 days for nothing and he has given credibility to the Zimbabwean process which Farai was critical of. This case demonstrates that if the world keeps quiet and civic society keeps quiet, its easy to destroy NGOs either by attacking their executive leadership or their political leadership or by attacking the organisation itself physically. So it sends a very chilling effect that if you criticise the authorities in our unjust law, there is sufficient basis for destroying you or destroying the work that you do.

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