Teachers union leader and Govt critic says revived 2016 murder charge politically motivated; remains in custody as case continues

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By Paul Katanda

ARMALGAMATED Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) leader Obert Masaraure was remanded in custody Thursday after appearing in court charged with murder.

The charges relate to a 2016 case of one Roy Issa who plunged to his death from the seventh floor of a Harare hotel.

Defence lawyer Douglas Coltart told Harare magistrate Yeukai Dzuda that charges against his client were politically motivated.

Masaraure is also spokesperson for the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition.

Coltart said investigators had repeatedly been changed the charges to suit the police’ narrative before Masaraure was brought to court.

“Firstly, investigation into this case is something like a witch-hunt where the police … appear to be on a mission to frame the accused person with no evidence,” said Coltart.

He added that the police officers went to interview one Samantha Lauti and detained her for an entire day, forcing her to state that it was Masaraure who killed Issa.

“When we are finished, you will see that this is a classic case of trumped up charges,” Coltart added.


“The police have been constantly changing the allegations against the accused in order to come up with a narrative that will specifically pin (down) the accused.

“Initially there were allegations that the accused pushed the deceased out of the window at Jameson Hotel. He was detained on a detention order on those allegations.

“All of a sudden all the allegations changed. New allegations were fabricated to say that he (Masaraure) assaulted the deceased to death along Park Street in the early hours of June 2, 2016.”

Reports at the time said Issa, who was in his 20s, died after he had visited friends booked at the hotel.

An inquest into Issa’s death ruled out foul play and the case was closed.

However, Masaraure was arrested at Harare Central Police Station where he had gone to fulfil his routine bail conditions for another case which is before the courts.

On Thursday, defence lawyer Coltart said his client was not at the scene but at home with his wife when the tragedy happened.

“Seeing the challenge that indeed the accused was not present at the scene at that given time,  allegations were changed again to say the deceased was assaulted at 10:30 pm,” said the defence attorney.

Furthermore, the State has not been candid with the court because they did disclose that there was an inquest into this case conducted by the police in which foul play was ruled out.

“We have been denied access to that inquest report which is a public document. Efforts were made to obtain that report from the clerk of court and it appears that it is missing.”

The case was postponed to Friday with Masaraure told he would remain in custody.