MDC activists acquitted after 5 years in jail

TWO MDC activists Tungamirai Madzokere and Last Maengahama, who were jailed for 20 years for murdering a Harare police officer in 2011, were yesterday acquitted by the Supreme Court after serving five years in prison.

Supreme Court judges,  Elizabeth Gwaunza, Susan Mavangira and Rita Makarau allowed the activists’ appeal after ruling that no concrete evidence had been presented before the court.

“The appeal is allowed with no order as to costs. The judgment of the court a quo convicting the first to third appellants of the crime of murder as defined in Section 47 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, (Chapter 9 23), and the fourth appellant as an accessory after the fact to the crime of public violence as defined in s 36 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act [Chapter 9:23), is set aside and substituted with the following: the seven accused persons are found not guilty and are duly acquitted of both the main and the alternative/concurrent charges.

“The sentences imposed on the appellants are hereby quashed and set aside. The first and third appellants are entitled to their immediate release,” the judges ruled.

According to the court the activists were entitled to a discharge at the close of the State case on both the main and alternative charges.

“This was so because the State did not adduce sufficient evidence upon which a court, acting carefully, might have convicted the appellants. 

“The identification evidence of the third appellant was manifestly unreliable. No evidence proving the appellants guilty on both charges was adduced in the defence cases.

“I wish to comment in general that the evidence from all the State witnesses did not tell a seamless story. There were too many loose ends. The scene was riotous and was very mobile and very fast moving.  

“Whilst none of the witnesses could be expected to have had a helicopter view of the scene, however, even from their different viewpoints, the State evidence must have told the same consistent story, being the version that the State wished to rely on to find the criminal liability of the appellants. Instead, not only was the evidence remarkably disjointed, it was contradictory in some respects,” they said.

Maengahama, Madzokere and Yvonne Musarurwa who is now an MDC MP were arrested after the murder of police officer Petros Mutedza by opposition members in May 2011.

The police officer was one of the members who were deployed to disperse MDC supporters in Glen View and Mutedza was stoned to death by opposition activists.

Musarurwa was released in 2018 through a presidential amnesty after serving two years in prison.