Justice delayed

This timeline catalogues the lengthy legal process used by the state to deny freedom to the Nyanga villagers:

13/02/11 – Mwonzora’s CDF feedback meeting at Chatindo Primary School, Nyanga North Constituency is disrupted by rowdy Zanu (PF) youths claiming allegiance to Hubert Nyanhongo, who is reportedly eyeing the constituency in the next elections. Violent clashes ensue. No immediate arrests are made by the police. Later that night, Zanu (PF) youths round up perceived MDC supporters and detains them overnight at Taziwa Restaurant at Nyakomba Business Centre. They are subjected to severe assaults and torture. Next morning, the kidnapped MDC supporters are handed over to police from Nyamaropa Police Station.

14/02/11 – Zanu (PF) youths continue rounding up MDC members and supporters.

15/02/11 – Mwonzora is arrested as he exits Parliament Building in Harare on way to doctor’s appointment. Taken to CID Law and Order Section, Harare Central Police, then detained at Rhodesville Police Station, no access to his medical doctor. The MDC supporters detained at Nyamaropa Police Station transferred to Nyanga Police Station. CID Law and Order at Mutare Central Police Station is now handling their matter. Detective Inspector Chipangura is Investigating Officer.

16/02/11 – Mwonzora sneaked to Nyanga in early morning as police attempt to evade his lawyers with whom they had arranged to meet at 8am. Detained overnight at Nyamaropa. Officer in Charge Nyamaropa denies that he is there.

17/02/11 – Lawyers visit Nyamaropa and see Mwonzora there. Office in charge declines to grant lawyers access to client. Hubert Nyanhongo arrives. Officer in charge rushes to attend to Nyanhongo leaving lawyers in his office. He later sends officer to eject them.

18/02/11 – Lawyers demand to see clients. Police are unwilling. Lawyers indicate they are proceeding to file an urgent chamber application. Court appearance is facilitated. Several complaints raised against police in court. Bail is granted to all accused persons. State invokes Section 121 Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act and bail is suspended.

25/02/11 – The State files its appeal on the last day it was permitted to do so,after accused spend seven days in remand prison. Bail hearing is set for March 4, 2011 contrary to the High Court rules requiring bail matters to be set down within 48 hours.

03/03/11 – Lawyers file response to bail appeal. They cross check with bail court roll for March 4 – matter does not appear on roll. AG’s office did not leave copy of appeal in court record – therefore nothing to set down. Lawyers engage AG’s office and copy is returned to court with request to include. Justice Yunus Omerjee declines request. Letter of complaint is addressed to Judge President Justice George Chiweshe. Matter is subsequently set for March 7.

07/03/11 – Matter is deferred March 9 to enable typed record of proceedings to be given to bail appeal court.

08/03/11 – Typed bail record is obtained from Nyanga Court and sent to bail appeal court in Harare

Judge President of the High Court responds to lette dated 04/03/11, promising to look into complaints and revert back due course.

09/03/11 – Bail appeal is argued in court. Judgement is reserved to Friday March 11.

11/03/11 – Appeal is dismissed and bail confirmed. Bail orders are processed and rushed to Nyanga Court, bail payments are made.

12/03/11 – Accused finally released from Mutare Remand Prison.

23/03/11 – Accused apply for refusal of further remand. State given one more chance to furnish a trial date. Lawyers give formal notice of intention to request for referral of the matter to Supreme Court.

16/04/11 – Headman Rwisai Nyakauru dies due to torture.

10/05/11 – Accused apply for referral to Supreme Court and apply for the release of a COPAC motor vehicle used by Mwonzora held by the police. Judgement reserved to May 23.

23/05/11 – Matter is referred to Supreme Court, order for release vehicle is granted.

27/09/11 – AG files application for review of the Magistrates’ decision to refer matter to Supreme Court.

11/10/11 – Accused file response opposing application.

15/11/11 – Registrar of Supreme Court sends letter dated 11/11/11 requesting Accused to file Heads of Argument.

22/11/11 – AG files answering affidavit in application for review. Accused write to Judge President making follow up on complaint.

06/12/11 – Accused file Heads of Argument.

26/01/12 -Accused removed from remand at Nyanga Magistrate’s court pending final determination by Supreme Court.

10/09/12 – Supreme Court Registrar advises defence lawyers and AG office that September 20, 2012 is hearing date for the constitutional application. – ZLHR Legal Monitor

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