By Mary Taruvinga
HARARE magistrate, Marehwanazvo Gofa Friday dismissed an application by journalist Hopewell Chin’ono who was challenging the legality of his appearance in court.
Chin’ono was arrested last week and is facing charges of defeating the course of justice through tweeting that Henrietta Rushwaya, who was arrested last week while attempting to smuggle 6kgs of gold to Dubai, was going to be granted bail with less struggle on her part.
Prosecutors argued the journalist, who is facing separate charges of inciting public violence, had made contacts with National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) officials who supplied him with inside information on the operations of the authority.
However, Chin’ono through his lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa had challenged his appearance before the court, arguing the mandatory 48 hours for any accused person to be brought to a court after arrest had lapsed.
But Gofa said court proceedings started at 16:45 and he was only arrested Tuesday at 17:00.
“Accused was brought at 16:45 by the police. When the record of proceedings was opened, it meant that he was no longer in the hands of the police but of the court. In casu, no extension of detention was made and the accused was brought to court within the 48-hour period,” ruled the magistrate.
After the ruling, Chin’ono, through his lawyer again complained he was being treated like a convicted, hardcore criminal in the D Section at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
“The accused was sent to Chikurubi Maximum Prison where he is being confined in D Section, the most dangerous section which houses dangerous criminals who have already been convicted, yet he should be at remand prison,” said Mtetwa.
She said most of the time, Chin’ono will also be in handcuffs and leg irons. Gofa ordered prison authorities to look into the concerns raised by Chin’ono.