By Robert Tapfumaneyi
CHARLES Kwaramba, a lawyer representing two MDC activists who were released from prison Friday after spending eight years in jail for a murder they did not commit, has described their freedom as a “mixed bag of feelings”.
Last Maengahama and Tungamirai Madzokere, walked as free citizens for the first time in eight years late Friday afternoon.
They had spent the last eight years at the notorious Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.
They were acquitted this week after the Supreme Court quashed their sentence and conviction passed by then High Court judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu.
Justice Bhunu had sentenced them to a prison term of 20 years each.
The two politicians, who both once served as Harare City councillors, were welcomed by their wives, relatives, lawyers, and MDC members at the main gate of Chikurubi Prison.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com outside the high-security prison Friday, Kwaramba described their incarceration as “an indictment on the criminal justice system as a whole”.
“This is an indictment on the criminal justice system as a whole that people have to be incarcerated for this long and at the end of it all, they are acquitted. It says something about our criminal justice system,” he said.
Kwaramba, who was part of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) representing the two activists, added evidence presented from the day of their arrest in 2011 showed they were innocent.
“We knew they were innocent from day one, there are so many matters that we have done in our lives as lawyers, where we are not sure whether the client is innocent or not.
“But…on this one, we were certain from day one that they were innocent. Everything that is said in the Supreme Court judgment, we said it from day one.”
Asked whether Maengahama and Madzokere would sue the state over unlawful arrest and incarceration, Kwaramba said the decision lied with the aggrieved parties.
“The decision is up to them in due course. For now, they go home, they rest and see their families. We will take instructions from them and we find out what they want to do. It is their decision really, but it’s an option that is open to them. We made it very clear that it was impossible to be convicted and go to prison on that issue, so nothing surprises us about the (Supreme Court) judgment. Our only disappointment is that it has to take this long for us to get to this day.”
Commenting on how he felt after spending nearly 10 years in the courts fighting for Maengahama and Madzokere’s release from prison, Kwaramba said it was “a bag of mixed feelings”.
“It’s a bag of mixed feelings really. On one hand, we are quite ecstatic, I have been happy in my life, but not on too many occasions have I been this happy because my clients are free eventually,” he said.
“But the other side, it’s regrettable they had to stay this long in prison. As you know justice delayed is injustice.”