THE Supreme Court on Tuesday 3 March 2020 reserved judgment on an appeal filed by two political prisoners, who are seeking their release from prison, where they are detained since 2016 after they were convicted and sentenced to serve 20 years for allegedly murdering a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officer.
The appeal, which was filed in 2016 by Last Tamai Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere was heard by Deputy Chief Justice Elizabeth Gwaunza together with two Judges of Appeal Justice Rita Makarau and Justice Susan Mavangira.
The two political prisoners, who were represented by Beatrice Mtetwa and Charles Kwaramba of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, filed the appeal against both conviction and sentence in 2016 after they were convicted of murder with actual intent as defined in section 47 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act by then High Court Judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu and sentenced to serve 20 years each at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
The two together with Yvonne Musarurwa were convicted in 2016 for murdering Petros Mutedza, a ZRP Inspector on 29 May 2011. However, Musarurwa was released from prison in March 2018 under a presidential pardon.
Phenias Nhatarikwa, who was convicted as an accessory after the fact to public violence as defined in in section 206 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was fined US$500 or in default of payment, three months imprisonment.
In their appeal, Maengahama, Madzokere, Musarurwa and Nhatarikwa wants the Supreme Court to pronounce them as not guilty and acquitted and to set aside the sentences imposed against them.
In their application which was opposed by the state, Mtetwa and Kwaramba argued that Justice Bhunu erred and misdirected himself when he failed to properly apply the law and discharge Maengahama, Madzokere, Musarurwa and Nhatarikwa as he was obliged to at the close of the state case when no evidence justifying their placement on their defence had been led and in doing so denied them a fair trial with the result that the conviction and sentence must be vacated.
Mtetwa and Kwaramba contended that Justice Bhunu erred and misdirected himself in finding Maengahama, Madzokere and Musarurwa guilty on the basis of the doctrine of common purpose when in law the doctrine is no longer part of Zimbabwean law.
The human rights lawyers also argued that the High Court Judge erred and misdirected himself when he convicted Nhatarikwa as an accessory after the fact to the crime of public violence when there is no actual perpetrator convicted of public violence during trial.
Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights