By Mary Taruvinga
JAILED former Zanu PF legislator, Munyaradzi Kereke’s appeal against both conviction and sentence has flopped again after High Court Judge, Charles Hungwe ruled that he deserved the punishment.
Kereke was in 2016 jailed 14 years for raping his then 10-year-old niece at gun point.
Four years of his jail time were suspended on condition of good behaviour. He was also acquitted on another charge of indecently assaulting the rape victim’s elder sister.
Through his lawyer, Advocate Thabani Mpofu, Kereke approached the High Court seeking freedom on grounds that the magistrate who convicted him, Noel Mupeiwa erred in coming up with a conviction and sentence.
In passing his ruling, Justice Hungwe said: “The argument relied on the harshness of the sentence imposed. I pose to observe that I do not find anything outstandingly unusual in the case.
“It is within range imposed in similar cases. As such, there is no basis for this court to interfere with the sentence.
“In light of this finding, the appeal against sentence is therefore dismissed. Consequently, the appeal is dismissed in its entirety.”
Since his incarceration, the former Bikita West legislator has made several attempts, through bail applications, to be released from prison on bail pending appeal, but to no avail.
He tried his luck this time claiming there are changed circumstances probably banking on the change of government after November 2017.
Kereke argued that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government would understand that his incarceration was politically motivated.
Prosecutors contend that Kereke has already benefited from the reduction of his jail term, which was allegedly slashed by the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services (ZPCS) and had his classification altered from being a dangerous criminal to a mere class C criminal.
The victim’s guardian lawyer, Charles Warara, who secured Kereke’s conviction, also urged the court to dismiss the bail application and challenged the ZPCS to justify why Kereke’s sentence was tampered with.
Kereke’s legal battle has had many twists and turns up until he was convicted after six years of his case being parked at the Prosecutor General’s office.
His case was the first to be privately prosecuted with Warara setting precedence in the history of independent Zimbabwe.
Kereke’s case had to proceed through private prosecution after the then Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana refused to prosecute him, claiming there was no evidence linking the then Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe senior official to the offence.