False start for trial of quartet charged over road blockade

As trio set free after two-day detention over “made up” robbery charges

courtTHE trial of four opposition political party supporters accused of blocking roads during an anti-government protest staged two months ago, failed to commence on Tuesday 08 November 2016 as the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) was inadequately prepared.

The four opposition political party supporters namely Patrick Tembo, aged 60, Tafadzwa Ziyamba, aged 28, Gift Konjana, aged 46 and Isaac Stani Shumba, aged 43, had been summoned in early September to stand trial on Tuesday 08 November 2016 after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers on 31 August 2016 and charged with contravening Section 38 (c) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 for allegedly obstructing or endangering free movement of persons or traffic.

Tembo, who is an MDC-T party councilor for ward 12 Chegutu Urban, Ziyamba, a self-employed motor-vehicle mechanic, Konjana, who is an unemployed MDC-T party chairperson for Chegutu West constituency and Shumba, who is also unemployed and is the Zimbabwe People First political party chairperson for Chegutu were represented by Marufu Mandevere of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR).

But the trial of the quartet couldn’t commence, as the NPA wasn’t ready to commence trial proceedings even though prosecutors had brought the four Chegutu residents to court for trial on summons.

Meanwhile, in Harare, three residents Munyaradzi Makwanya, Norman Nyakundengwa and Albert Chiteya were on Tuesday 08 November 2016 released from ZRP custody after the NPA conceded defects on charges of committing robbery which the trio, who reside in Highfield high density suburb, had been charged with contravening as defined in Section 126 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Makwanya, Nyakundengwa and Chiteya, who were represented by Gift Mtisi of ZLHR, were arrested on Sunday 06 November 2016, and initially faced charges of theft as defined in Section 113 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for allegedly stealing $129 from Blessing Kanyere, a fellow resident in Harare’s Highfield high-density suburb and assault in terms of Section 89 of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

However, ZRP officers altered the charges to robbery as defined in Section 126 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

But prosecutors from the NPA declined to prosecute the trio and set them free after vetting the ZRP docket which they indicated had some glaring deficiencies including that the complainant, Kanyere’s narration and circumstances on which Makwanya, Nyakundengwa and Chiteya were arrested upon were unrelated.

Kanyere also filed an affidavit insisting that the NPA should withdraw the robbery charges against the trio.

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