Warrant of arrest for war vets

TWO war veterans who were arrested together with 36 others last year in October for protesting against their low monthly pensions were issued with warrants of arrests after failing to appear in court for trial.

The trial was supposed to start yesterday after Harare magistrate Barbra Mateko denied the war veterans’ application for separation of trial.

The former freedom fighters, through their lawyers, had asked the court to separate their trial in order to allow them to come for the same trial in batches.

Their reasoning was that some of the accused were sick and were senior citizens and could not afford to come all at once for the trial.

However, Mateko ruled that the trial commences as only one out of the accused had raised health problems at the time of the application.

“I do not see any reason why the trial cannot commence today as the entire accused are present and the accused that raised a health complaint can be tried separately. Also considering the number of the accused in the courtroom and that they are senior citizens, the trial can commence,” Mateko said

She said the outstanding accused would then have her own trial when she feels better.

But the ex-combatants, through their lawyers, insisted on a postponement as they were not ready for trial and needed time to enquire why the two had defaulted as well as alert them of the warrants.

Eventually Mateko allowed the postponement and put the accused on a continuous roll starting from February 4 as they were senior citizens.

She also indicated she would make their trial a priority. Silent Shoko prosecuted for the State.

The former liberation war fighters were arrested for staging a demonstration over their low monthly pensions and welfare after being allegedly barred from protesting by the riot police in Harare last year.