… ‘perpetrators’ walk scot-free as victims fail to get legal counsel
ZAKA - Two MDC Alliance activists who lost livestock to Zanu PF supporters in the violent run-up to the 2008 presidential election re-run were recently left disappointed after the court dismissed their case for lacking evidence, TellZim News has learnt.
Tongai Mashingire and Alwis Mashiri did not have legal representation for the better part of the case which spanned more than a year and got closed on November 23, 2020.
However, the alleged perpetrators; Zvirevo Majoni, Sunamisai Chivamba, Cosmas Mapfumo and Stephen Harudzibwi, who is now a Zanu PF Councillor for Ward 15, were fully represented by James Makiya of Makiya and Partners.
The complaints had pursued criminal charges against their alleged tormentors and they had sought to be compensated for their lost property but their case was thrown away by magistrates Florence Nago and Vimbai Mutukwa.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Humans Rights (ZLHR), which normally represents victims of political violence and persecution, did nothing to help this time around.
ZLHR, however, recently helped the widow of slain Kelvin Tinashe Choto, win a $4.3 million suit against the government after her husband was gunned down by a police officer during the January 2019 protests against fuel increase.
Of late, ZLHR has been accused of pursuing an elitist agenda; giving priority and prominence only to high-profile cases that attract a lot of limelight while relegating genuine cases of legal need to mediocre representation or ignoring them altogether.
Mashingire and Mashiri said they were disappointed with the judgement which they want to be reviewed by a higher court.
The two who were at some point represented by local lawyer Derrick Charamba, who later withdrew his services midway as the villagers could not supply him with the fuel that he had requested for him to be able to drive from Masvingo city to Jerera where the court sat.
Speaking to TellZim News, Mashingire said although his case was rubbished, he had evidence to pin down the perpetrators and would like to see them face the full wrath of the law.
“The magistrate agreed with the defense counsel that my evidence of a document which Headman Sunamisai Chivamba signed when he agreed to give me back my beast was not authentic and threw away my case. I have enough evidence and I want to take this case forward but I lack support,” said Mashingire.
Mashiri also echoed the same sentiments saying the basis which was used to dismiss their case was not satisfactory.
“I am not happy with the way the case was determined because I was denied entry into the courtroom when the judgement was being delivered only to be later told that my case had been dismissed. I am truly disappointed and I don’t even know who to approach or what I should do next because I am not satisfied,” said Mashiri.
Both Mashingire and Mashiri who are MDC Alliance supporters in Ward 15, Zaka district, said felt they were being persecuted for their support of the opposition in a largely rural and Zanu PF-dominated district.
Mashingire lost a beast, six 50kg bags of maize, two bags of groundnuts, one bucket bambara ground nuts, five chickens while Mashiri lost a beast. They claim their property was seized by marauding Zanu PF activists as punishment for their support for then MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai who had just defeated then president and now late Robert Mugabe in the first round of the election of March 2008.