Lawyers not hopeful about Kereke prosecution

Reliance on state institutions for the private prosecution of businessman-cum-politician Munyaradzi Kereke on rape charges could compromise the judicial process say lawyers.

Munyaradzi Kereke
Munyaradzi Kereke

Kereke, the independent Member of Parliament for Bikita West and former advisor to Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono, is accused of raping a then 11 year-old girl at gun-point four years ago.

The High Court recently ruled that he must be subjected to private prosecution after the Prosecutor General declined pursue the matter, saying there was insufficient evidence. Francis Maramwidze, the girl’s guardian, has complained that the police also frustrated his attempts to have Kereke arrested and tried.

Dzimbabwe Chimbga of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said private prosecution of the matter might provide a chance for justice to the victim, but warned that there could be subtle resistance from state institutions.

“Unfortunately state institutions have been shown to be biased in the past. I foresee a number of hurdles because the complainant would still rely on state machinery – including the courts and the police. Are the lower courts going to objectively handle the matter considering that their boss has said already said there is no evidence,” he said. Kereke has filed a notice of appeal at the Supreme Court, arguing that the High Court erred in its judgement, a development that might delay his trial.

Justice Mavedzenge, a constitutional lawyer, said it was vital to get the cooperation of the National Prosecuting Authority. He described private prosecution as an “arduous and expensive process” that the rape victim had chosen as a last resort as the state had shown its unwillingness to handle the matter.

“In a normal democracy—which we should be—private prosecution is not used that much because there is trust in the State. While it has been rare up to now, we might see more and more people resorting to it, despite its challenges, because they have nowhere else to go,” he added.

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