A tale of two murders: a travesty of justice

A policeman was murdered last year. Twenty nine people were arrested, tortured in an effort to extract confessions, and been held in filthy conditions in various police stations for months on end – and are now in maximum security prison. Some of the suspects ended up in hospital with bone fractures. Some were kept in solitary confinement.

The state prosecutor has invoked the notorious Section 121 of the criminal code, which allows him to reverse any decision by a magistrate or judge to grant bail, to keep the accused persons in prison.

Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri told mourners soon after the murder: “Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword.” He promised retribution for the murder. Nearly 12 months later, no evidence linking the 29 suspects to the murder has been presented in court. In a desperate attempt to get relief from their inhumane treatment, the suspects – all MDC officials – took the matter to the High Court.

What happened then would be farcical if it were not so tragic. On several occasions, the court did not sit. Either the prosecutor was attending a funeral, or was sick, or not ready to argue his case. The judge also had his moment when he could not come to court as he was “not feeling well” or was attending to some “other business”. Now he has reserved judgement “indefinitely”. Meanwhile the hapless MDC officials rot in jail under atrocious conditions.

Recently, another murder took place. This time, six policemen beat to death a man they claimed had stolen a purse from the wife of the Member in Charge of Shamva Police. Chihuri called it a case of “indiscipline”. Despite there being irrefutable evidence that these policemen killed the man, they were granted bail of $50 each upon their first appearance in court. There were no reports of them having been tortured in custody; no non-appearances in court by the prosecutor; no sick judge; no invocation of Section 121; no judgement reserved “indefinitely”.

While these murderous policemen enjoy their freedom, the 29 presumed innocent MDC officials languish in prison. We challenge the police to present before a competent court any evidence they may have of their guilt. This is a shameful travesty of justice.

Post published in: Editor: Wilf Mbanga
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