Judgement reserved in MDC murder convicts Supreme Court appeal

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By Mary Taruvinga

THE Supreme Court Tuesday reserved judgement on an appeal by three opposition political party supporters who are serving 20 years each on allegations of murdering a Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officer, Petros Mutedza in May 2011.

The three political prisoners namely Tungamirai Madzokere, Yvonne Musarurwa and Last Maengahama are appealing against the High Court ruling arguing that the judge Justice Chinembiri Bhunu erred in failing to establish that they were innocent.

They were convicted in 2017 and on 24 May 2017 they sought to be admitted on bail pending the hearing of their appeal against both conviction and sentence with no luck.

Through their lawyers, the opposition political party members had filed an application in the Supreme Court appealing against both their conviction and sentence.

“The court relied on evidence of eye witnesses who contradicted each other. There was fabrication and a predetermined effort to investigate only MDC members,” submitted their lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa.

Mtetwa also argued that the conclusion reached by the High court to convict the three was based on the doctrine of common purpose which was taken away by the Criminal Codification and Reform Act.

“The court somehow convicts individuals based on account of one witness when the rest of the witnesses confessed that the accused were on the other side of the road.”

The lawyer also argued that no witness specifically identified the trio throwing stones but the judge still ruled that they were seen committing the crime.

The trio was convicted of murder with actual intent.

Initially, the group consisted of over 30 MDC activists arrested over the same matter, although the majority were later released for lack of incriminating evidence.

One of the suspects Rebecca Mafikeni died while in custody while Musarurwa was pardoned by President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the 2018 amnesty.

The trio’s co-accused; Phineas Nhatarikwa was convicted for being an accessory to the crime.

Nhatarikwa was fined $500 in addition to a wholly suspended three-year jail term.

According to the state, the group allegedly murdered Mutedza after he went to Glen View 3 as part of a team assigned to disperse a group of MDC supporters who were enjoying a brai and drinking alcohol.

The activists started shouting and began throwing stones, empty bottles, steel stool frames and other missiles at the police.

According to court papers, the police were out-numbered by the group and Mutedza rushed to a Nissan Hardbody which he mistakenly identified as a police vehicle.

He was hit by a brick on the left side of his head and fell down, the State said.

The group kicked him until he became unconscious.

He was rushed to Harare Central Hospital where he died on arrival.