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Mugabe 'insult' soldier freed

by Staff reporter
30 Apr 2013 at 13:32hrs | 3508 Views
A former soldier who spent the last two years fighting false accusations of calling President Robert Mugabe a foreigner and a thief has walked free in a case that appears to expose that the system seems to fabricate charges to fix human rights defenders.

Magistrate Sekesai Chiundura acquitted Naison Chivandire last week after the State, whose witnesses were inconsistent in court, failed to prove a prima facie case.

Crucially, the case exposed disturbing conduct as well as the lengths to which the system can go to concoct charges in order to fix members of the public who stand up for human rights.

All witnesses against Chivandire were police officers.

One of them ended up being declared hostile by the State after he deviated from his statement to the police and told the court that what he termed was "the truth" was that the ex-military man never insulted Mugabe.

Instead, a fellow police officer instructed him to copy a statement nailing Chivandire.

After the conclusion of the State case, Chivandire's lawyer Peggy Tavagadza-Mapfumo expressed concern that police officers would go as far as concocting statements grossly abusive of  Mugabe and attribute them to accused persons.

In Chivandire's case, the insult crafted by the police would make Mugabe or those who support him quiver with anger.

Some of the alleged insulting words are unprintable in a respected newsletter such as The Legal Monitor.

But, below we quote part of the police officers' statements which they concocted in a bid to nail Chivandire.

"I am a former soldier in the ZNA (Zimbabwe National Army) and I resigned because of injustices caused by Mugabe. You have been sent by Mugabe who is a thief, he lost the 2008 elections. Mugabe ... (unprintable words), muforeigner akabva kuMalawi tichamuuraya (and a foreigner who comes from Malawi. We will kill him).

"Mugabe is a… (unprintable words) and he spoiled you, he is an… (unprintable words) and he uses you, the police," police alleged Chivandire to have said.

But after the acquittal and the confession by one of the witnesses that Chivandire never uttered such words, questions now remain on what was the motive of the police officers when they crafted such insult charges.

"This is the extent to which police officers can go just to fix an accused person whose only crime was to question the manner in which they were effecting an arrest which was inhumane and degrading," said Tavagadza-Mapfumo of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Police arrested the 30-year-old Chivandire in April 2011 at one of Mutare's premier nightclubs, Sports Café.

He was subsequently charged for allegedly contravening Section 33 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for insulting and undermining the authority of Mugabe.

Chivandire said he never uttered such words but police were out to fix him after he tried to protect a woman suffering human rights abuses at the hands of the same officers.

As a former member of the ZNA trained in human rights, Chivandire advised the police, who were assaulting a lady accused of loitering, that they were violating her rights.

Said Tavagadza-Mapfumo: "He was arrested so as to fix him and was surprised as to why the police would go to the extent of alleging that he insulted  Mugabe so as to fix him.

Chivandire is a human rights defender who was arrested for challenging police officer's treatment of a suspect."  

Source - Insult,Soldier
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