The four IDPs namely Mike Mudyanembwa, Patrick Chinounda Changwesha, Samuel Mubaiwa and Nyengeterai Tagwirei were convicted by Chiredzi Magistrate Honest Musiiwa on Monday 26 January 2015 and later sentenced each of them to serve five years in prison on Tuesday 27 January 2015.
However, the IDPs lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights in January 2015 petitioned the High Court seeking an order to set aside their conviction and sentence.
In their appeal, the Chingwizi villagers’ lawyers argued that Magistrate Musiiwa grossly erred and misdirected himself in convicting the IDPs.
The Magistrate, the lawyers argued, paid no regard at all to other forms of punishment that are applicable in the circumstances and was clearly under the apprehension that he was compelled to impose the maximum or near maximum penalty possible and failed to use his judicial discretion on imposing sentence.
Mudyanembwa, Changwesha, Mubaiwa and Tagwirei were arrested in August 2014 and charged with committing public violence in contravention of Section 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act together with 26 other IDPs. However, the other 26 IDPs were set free in late 2014 by Magistrate Musiiwa at the close of the State case.
Prosecutors claimed that Mudyanembwa, Changwesha, Mubaiwa and Tagwirei, who are now represented by Blessing Nyamaropa and Sharon Hofisi of ZLHR, masterminded the assault on police officers and burnt Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) vehicles and rifles when they protested against the forced relocation of a clinic from Chingwizi Transit Camp to Nuanetsi Ranch, where thousands of flood victims were forced to move to.
The arrest of the IDPs attracted local, regional and international condemnation after it was revealed in court that they suffered torture and other cruel, degrading and inhuman treatment at the hands of ZRP members while in custody.Post published in: Featured