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Convict bailed after 11 years in remand prison
19/12/2012 00:00:00
by Staff Reporter
 
Bailed ... Man released after 11 years in remand prison
 
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A CONVICT who benefited from a presidential pardon but allegedly went on to commit murder in two weeks of his release has been bailed after spending 11 years in remand prison.

John Muchenje was granted $60 bail Wednesday by Bulawayo High Court judge Justice Nicholas Ndou pending a Supreme Court appeal.

The suspect was released from Harare Prison after doing time for an unspecified crime in August 2001 under a Presidential Amnesty.

But Muchenje was back in jail two weeks later charged with the killing of his cousin, Dadley Chiromo, who stayed in Bulawayo’s Gwabalanda suburb.

The two reportedly picked an argument over a musical cassette, leading to Muchenje fatally striking Chiromo with an iron rod before stealing his clothes and money.

Muchenje then locked the body in the house and went away, it is alleged.

He went on trial in 2003 before then Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice George Chiweshe.

Four witnesses testified and the matter had to be postponed because the state could not locate one of its witnesses.

It was then punted until Justice Chiweshe left the Bulawayo High Court in 2005.

One year later, the judge came back to finalize the case, but the trial could not proceed because a key witness was unavailable. This led to an indefinite deferment until two years ago when prison authorities started complaining.

Two assessors who were sitting with Justice Chiweshe have both died.

Last year, prosecutors made attempts to retry the case before Justice Ndou, but that failed. Now Muchenje is outside of the court remand system and only appears on request by the State.

He has since made an application for referral to the Supreme Court arguing that his right to a “speedy and fair trial within a reasonable time” has been violated.

Justice Ndou granted the referral application last month.

Muchenje is represented by Lizwe Jamela and Nosimilo Chanayiwa of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

“Continuing with the trial or starting the trial afresh, whichever way the State proceeds, will put the justice system into disrepute and cause credibility of the entire system to be lost,” Muchenje’s attorneys wrote to the Supreme Court.

“The delay has been too long, regardless that the applicant has been available at all times. The State delayed the matter by failing to avail its witness, which witness is actually an employee of the respondent.”

Prosecutor Martha Cheda argues though that the State has always made frantic efforts to put closure to the case.

She says Muchenje’s rights have not been infringed, except, he has not asserted them.



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