Court Watch 06-2013


[30th May 2013]

Update on Glen View 29 Murder Trial – Part 1

State v Solomon Madzore and 28 Others

Case Reminder:  In May 2011 Police Inspector Mutedza died as a result of injuries received in a scrimmage with members of the public at Glen View 3 shopping centre.  Between May and January 2012 the police arrested 29 MDC-T members and officials.  Some were released on bail, 7 of them having endured nearly 9 months in prison before release.  Solomon Madzore, the MDC-T Youth Assembly chairperson, and Paul Rukanda, a district party office-holder, were denied bail.  On 1st March they were all committed for trial when the indictment charging them with Inspector Mutedza’s murder in contravention of section 47 of the Criminal Law [Codification and Reform] Act was served on them at the magistrates court.  The committal for trial resulted in all the accused being returned to remand prison, as section 66 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act [CPE Act] requires an accused person to be remanded in custody once indicted on a murder charge for trial in the High Court.

Early stages of the case were covered in detail in:

Court Watch 4/2012 of 9th March gave the circumstances of the case and followed the court appearances made by the accused from the initial arrests in May 2011 up until 1st March 2012 when the Attorney General indicted the 29 accused for trial on a murder charge, with the trial to start on 12th March; and all the accused were committed for trial and ordered held in prison pending trial.

Court Watch 5/2012 of 14th March gave an update on the defence’s application to postpone the trial from 12th March to 2nd April to allow the defence team to complete its defence case outline, and another application for release on bail for the duration of the trial. 

Court Watch 9/2012 of May 2012 outlined further developments in the case: the lodging of the defence outline and the accused’s continued stay in remand prison waiting for the start of their trial and a decision on bail.

Developments since March 2012

Delayed start of trial: 4th June  Although set down to start on 12th March, the trial did not start on that day and the accused did not plead to the indictment.  The defence applied for a postponement to allow them further time to complete the outline of the defence case.  There was further delay because of the  court vacation, which ran from 7th April to 6th May.  The trial finally started before Justice Bhunu and assessors on 4th June 2012.  All 29 accused entered pleas of not guilty.  There was a heavy police presence at the High Court, and entry into the court room was restricted to the accused persons’ family members. 

Frequent postponements  The trial did not, as is the ideal and should be the norm for any High Court criminal trial on a charge of this nature, proceed smoothly from Day 1 to the end, without interruption.  The prosecution had said in its written outline of the State case that it would be calling 20 State witnesses.  But progress was slow and proceedings were frequently postponed, usually because of the prosecution’s apparent general lack of preparedness. 

Inspection in loco at crime scene  On 26th June there was an inspection in loco in Glen View to allow the judge and assessors to inspect the scene of the alleged crime. 

Postponement when one accused person hospitalised  In July the trial postponed indefinitely because one of the accused, Nyamadzwo Gapara, needed hospitalisation, first in Harare Central Remand Hospital, where Justice Bhunu visited him, and later in a private hospital after the judge granted a defence application for the move.  The accused remained in custody during this postponement.  In due course Mr Gapara recovered and was sent back to prison, and the trial was set down to resume on 10th September, only to be postponed to 24th September when the prosecutor said he was involved in other cases.

Vulnerable witness  In February 2013 the prosecution applied for State witness Edinah Chihota to be allowed to give her evidence in camera.  According to the State’s case outline she was an eye-witness who would identify individual accused persons as participants in the offence.  Ms Chihota was said to have received threats from unknown people and in consequence to be anxious about giving evidence in open court.  Justice Bhunu granted the application, and special arrangements were made for her to give her evidence using the facilities of the Victim Friendly Court at the Harare Magistrates Court.  This entailed the Chief Justice directing the High Court to sit at the Victim Friendly Court instead of its normal venue at the High Court itself.  The proceedings were in private, with press and members of the public excluded.

Long delay for Cuban medical expert’s evidence  After several postponements the prosecution called its final witness, Cuban pathologist Dr Aguero, who had conducted the post mortem examination of Inspector Mutedza’s body.  It had taken several weeks for the prosecution and Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the Cuban Government’s permission for Dr Aguero to testify in court and to secure an interpreter.  Dr Aguero began giving his evidence on 8th March 2013.  Lead defence lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa described the report as “unsatisfactory and worthless”.  Dr Aguero nevertheless maintained that the injuries he had observed were not consistent with Inspector Mutedza having fallen from a fast-moving police vehicle he was attempting to board – which was what some State witnesses had said happened. 

Close of State case  On 11th March the prosecutor closed the State case.  The defence immediately gave notice that they wished to make an application for the discharge of all accused. 

Defence application for discharge  An application for discharge at the close of the State case is provided for by section 198(3) of the CPE Act.  This states that if at the close of the State case “the court is of the opinion that there is no evidence that the accused committed the offence charged in the indictment” the court must return a verdict of not guilty.  The case was postponed to 25th March, and then again postponed to 2nd April to allow the record to be transcribed.  On 2nd April the defence asked for more time to analyse the voluminous transcript and the case was adjourned again, to 23rd April.

Current Status: Postponed Indefinitely for Hearing of Application for Discharge

On 23rd April the defence was not ready to make its submissions on the application for discharge and requested a postponement to enable it to complete its written submissions on the circumstances of each accused.  The judge then postponed proceedings indefinitely.  The defence lodged its written submissions on 6th May  The prosecution has yet not lodged its response.  A date for the resumption of the proceedings is still awaited.

Comment: the long drawn out nature of this case seems a travesty of justice.

Further arrests for involvement in Mutedza death

October 2012  Tarisai Kusotera and Jackson Mabota were arrested and later remanded in custody charged with the murder of Inspector Mutedza.  They are the MDC-T Youth Assembly chairperson and deputy chairperson, respectively, for Glen View South.  They were released on bail on 7th November 2012, and are awaiting developments.

2nd April 2013  Paul Gorekore, an MDC-T youth leader and former councillor, was arrested and charged with the Mutedza murder.  He was taken to court on 5th April and has since been remanded in custody. On 9th May Mr Gorekore’s lawyer lodged an application for bail in the High Court.  The bail hearing was set down for 17th May but, after two postponements, is now expected on Friday 31st May.

Comment:  These three accused, having been arrested after the start of the “trial of the Glenview 29”, must be tried separately.  Presumably the State is awaiting the outcome of that trial before proceeding against these three accused.

Part II relates the defence battle for bail after the 29 accused were
imprisoned when committed for trial.

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