Police under scutiny as MDC-T activists' trial enters second day

The drama that characterised the beginning of the MDC-T police murder trial on Monday spilled into Tuesday after the 29 prisoners on trial spent some time refusing to be led into the court room after police barred dozens of their relatives from entering the court room.

Augustine Chihuri
Augustine Chihuri

This was after police blocked the main entrance to the High Court building insisting they were under instructions to limit the number of those entering the court.

Police said they were trying to avoid a repeat of the wild skirmishes between them and dozens of MDC-T youths outside the High Court building on Monday, who were demanding the conclusion of the long drawn case.

The lawyers representing the 29 MDC-T murder suspects spent some time remonstrating with the police over why they were barring relatives of the accused from witnessing the trial.

Although police finally gave in after heated exchanges with the lawyers, some frightened relatives had already left the place fearing the same fate that befell their loved ones who are in custody.

Charles Kwaramba, one of the lawyers representing the accused, condemned the police action.

“It is absolutely unbelievable and it shouldn’t happen in a properly functioning democracy. What we want is people to have access to the courts. The people who were in the court yesterday where peaceful and no one did anything wrong, so how can you bar spouses, wives and husbands, children and relatives from hearing the fate of their beloved ones?’’ said Kwaramba.

“In any case it’s an open court and members of the public are allowed to enter. If there are skirmishes, it is within the power of the police to act but they should not do it not stopping people from attending proceedings in court,” he added.

The trial that started on Monday continued on Tuesday with both the state and the defence limiting Tuesday’s proceedings to a bail application filed by the defence.

During Tuesday’s session, the state, represented by Edmore Nyazamba, opposed the granting of bail to the accused, arguing that chances of them absconding trial had been made possible by the commencement of their trial.

Nyazamba argued that the case against the accused was now stronger and that the accused were much aware of the possibility of capital punishment should they be found guilty.

But the defence was vehemently opposed to this. The 29 accused persons are residents of Harare’s high density Glen View suburb and were arrested separately last year following the violence that led to the death of inspector Petros Mutedza.

Inspector Mutedza was among a group of police officers deployed to disperse what they deemed an illegal party gathering in the same suburb. The MDC-T murder suspects all plead not guilty to the charges.

Meanwhile, MDC-T has condemned the conduct of the police since the trial began. ‘‘The MDC condemns in the strongest terms police action on Monday at the High Court when they fired teargas at MDC members and relatives of the 29 MDC activists facing fabricated charges of murdering a police officer last year,’’ said MDC-T in a statement.

‘‘The police’s heavy-handedness in the past two days is a clear indication that some senior Zimbabwe Republic Police officers are working as political commissars for Zanu PF,’’ added the party.

It accused of the ZRP Commissioner General of bias. ‘‘Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri has turned ZRP into a police force of lawlessness and disorder. The MDC will not accept and recognise a senior public officer who displays an openly partisan, discriminatory and biased view of the society.

‘‘As a party, the MDC appeals for police to be professional at all times and calls for the resignation of part time commissioner general, Augustine Chihuri from the force,’’ it added.

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