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Trial of 'Shut-down' protesters fast-tracked

by Staff reporter
17 Jan 2019 at 18:11hrs | Views
Eight protestors - who allegedly burnt down a Zupco bus and a car belonging to former Information minister Webster Shamu's wife - have accused the State of practicing "Sharia law" after they were "hurriedly tried."

Miston Siriva, Charles Bengeza, Shylock Chihuri, Emmanuel Chari, cassim Muzhingi, Benson Bhobho, Nollen Dulana and Rumbidzai Dulana, who are accused of public violence, were brought to court for initial remand where the State immediately proceeded to trial.

Trial commenced at around 5pm and adjourned around 8pm.

The eight sought postponement after Gift Mtisi and Simon Simango took over their legal representation.

Simango argued that the rights of his clients were violated after the court proceeded to trial without furnishing them with State outlines and without giving them adequate time to prepare for trial.

They also sought recusal of presiding magistrate Elijah Makomo on the basis that he allowed the matter to proceed to trial without the accused person being served with the papers.

"It is common cause that an accused person must be furnished with State papers which formulate the backbone of any trial. For it to be a fair trial, one has to have state papers.

"This happened in the full glare of the honourable magistrate. The accused persons feel the court is biased because of the oversight," Simango said, adding that this was not an oversight by the magistrate.

Simango said section 70 1 c of the Constitution stipulates that any person has the right to be given adequate time and facilities to prepare their defence.

He said trial commenced on Tuesday but they were only served with the papers on Wednesday morning.

"They came in yesterday and trial proceeded yesterday without the State papers and the accused persons are questioning the hurry in their prosecution."

"This constitutes Sharia law where trial is fast-tracked and accused persons are hurried to the gallows," Simango said.

Simango said there appears to be "foreign forces" as the complainant Constance Shamu is married to the former Information minister.

He also sought recusal of the magistrate on the basis that he may have been swayed by a statement by permanent secretary in the Information ministry Nick Mangwana which was broadcast by the national broadcaster.

In the statement, Mangwana is alleged to have said they want to expeditiously bring the protesters before the courts and give them lengthy prison terms.

The State, led by George Makonore, opposed the application, saying they explained the rights of the accused persons and they waived their right to legal representation.

He justified proceeding to trial, saying the docket was ready.

Makomo dismissed the applications, and ruled that trial proceeds immediately.

Mtisi advised the court that he will not participate in the trial proceedings as he has to rush to Mbare where he is representing other protesters.

Source - dailynews