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Mamombe, Chimbiri trial opens

by Staff reporter
16 Mar 2022 at 05:31hrs | Views
CELLPHONES believed to be owned by Citizens Coalition for Change members – Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri were active on internet and various social media platforms during the time the two claimed that they were taken by police on their way to Harare and later abducted and taken to an unknown destination where they alleged to have been tortured before being dumped in Musana, Mashonaland Central province.

According to a State witness, the two cellphones were said to be active browsing on internet, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchart and Instagram between 2:39pm and 10pm when Mamombe and Chimbiri claimed they were in the hands of the police.

This was said by State witness Mr Tapera Christopher Kazembe a spectrum manager at the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

He was testifying during the trial where Mamombe and Chimbiri are alleged to have faked their abductions in May 2020.

They are charged with communicating falsehoods prejudicial to the State.

Mr Kazembe, who once worked at TelOne and Econet before working as a consultant at Ericson in the Diaspora, said this while commenting on data collected from Econet in relation to network usage.

He told the court that information obtained from such data usage is correct and reliable.

"The information is taken from the Econet network including date and time and some of us we let Econet update time automatically on our cellphones.

"Econet is reasonably accurate. It may not be to the last minut,e but normally time accurate and can be used by anybody," he said.

Through their lawyers, Mr Alec Muchadehama and Mr Jeremiah Bamu, Mamombe and Chimbiri denied the allegations.

"The accused persons will tell the court that they did not at any stage tell any relative, friend or lawyer that they had been abducted.

"This is a narrative being yarned by the police and the State in order to abuse the accused.

"As it stands, there is an extant judgement of the High Court in which a factual finding is made that the accused did not communicate to any person that they had been abducted as is being alleged or at all.

"The accused will further tell the court that from the very beginning of this matter, they have requested for particulars as to who they communicated to and what the exact communication was.

"This request was denied many times. They are therefore hamstrung in their defence and can only say that they did not communicate or publish to any lawyer(s) that they had been abducted.

" They put the State to the strict proof of this allegation, in particular they challenge the State to lead evidence from the lawyer(s) they allege and produce proof of the communication they allege," they said.

Mamombe and Chimbiri denied communicating with any of their relatives over the alleged abduction.

"They did not communicate or publish to any friend(s) that they had been abducted.

"They put the State to the strict proof of this allegation. In particular they challenge the State to lead evidence from the friend(s) they allege and produce proof of the communication they allege," they said.

The duo so said that none of the communications they made at the material time was false or incited violence.

"None of their communications incites or promotes public disorder or public violence or endangers public safety.

"None of their statements undermines public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the prisons and correctional services or the defence forces of Zimbabwe as alleged or at all.

"They challenge the State, not only to prove the alleged communication, but also prove how it undermines public confidence in a law enforcement agency, the prisons and correctional service or defence forces of Zimbabwe," they told the court.

Mamombe and Chimbiri claimed that the police forced them to record their warned and cautioned statements when they were receiving treatment in hospital.

"The police said they were taking these statements from the accused persons as witnesses in order to make some investigations.

"Despite several follow ups, the police never reverted to the Accused with an outcome of their investigations," they said.

In their defence, the two told the court that they were being persecuted by their political rivals and also being fanned by public media.

"Accused will tell the court that they are being persecuted by the State at the behest of Zanu-PF for political purposes.

"They will specifically tell the court that what ever Zanu-PF officials said in public media beforehand is exactly what would transpire to them.

"Their arrest and detention in connection with this offence were precipitated by such denigrating and derogatory statements in public media.

"Their denial of bail even on appeal was precipitated by media articles which contained veiled threats to the members of the judiciary presiding over the bail applications.

"The committal of 1 accused to remand prison for mental examination was preceded by public comments to that effect from these people," they claimed.

They also told the court that they are being made scapegoats for being unlawfully arrested, disappeared and tortured.

"The irony is not lost to them the fact that they were taken into police custody was publicly acknowledged by the police.

"When the police thereafter failed to account for their whereabouts, the issue attracted world attention.

"This is why the police, Zanu-PF, the State and those acting in cahoots with them want to hide what happened to the accused under the carpet.

"As a result of the above, police. Zanu-PF, the State and those acting in cahoots with them want to make the accused persons bad examples of what Zanu-PF and its stranglehold on the State apparatus can do it anyone dares to expose them," they claimed.

In their defence, the two gave an account of what they claimed happened on the day in question.

They claimed that they were tortured and sexually abused.

"Accused saw a structure which looked like a deserted house built to window level. The structure was surrounded with tall grass such that she could not see any other structure nearby. The Accused were led into the structure and got to the back where there was a big dug out pit.

"While in the pit accused were ordered to sing revolutionary songs at the same time jogging.

"The persons instructed Accused to sing on top of their voices such that they could hear us even while outside the pit.

"They sang and joined continuously until 1st Accused could not continue anymore.

"The accused stopped singing and huggled themselves in a corner. The persons poured cold water the accused.

"While Accused were shivering at a corner, the other two persons came down and started assaulting accused with open hands.

"Accused was slapped on the left ear and up to now, her left ear could not hear properly," they said.

They claimed that police forced them to drink their urine and excrete.

The matter continues today when the two''s lawyer indicated that they want to object to tendering of documents obtained from Econet to the court by the State.

Mamombe and Chimbiri also indicated that they wanted to apply for direct approach to the Constitutional Court after Chief Magistrate Mrs Faith Mushure dismissed their application for referral to the ConCourt saying it lacked seriousness.

Mr Michael Reza prosecuted.

Source - The Herald