By Wisdom Mumera
The court cases of hundreds arrested in the aftermath of the shutdown have become a legal sham with indications of a government conspiracy to undermine their rights through mishandling of the cases by the involved magistrates.
The more than 700 people who include #ThisFlag leader Pastor Evan Mawarire, Mbizo MP Settlement Chikwinya and Redcliff MP Lloyd Mkapiko, both MDC Alliance, have had their right to justice undermined by a seeming state plot spanning the whole country.
According to experts, the pattern includes blanket denial to hear bail applications of the detained and where they are heard, blanket and a thoughtless refusal of bail; fast-tracking trials and denial of preparation; a false semblance of judicial process and failure to observe rights of the detained some of whom have spent three days without eating.
Speaking at the Magistrate Court after the denial of bail for Mawarire prominent human rights advocate and lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa said there is definitely something fishy.
“As lawyers, we are asking ourselves whether actually we are aiding and abetting the system by giving it respectability.
“Our presence makes it seem like there’s actually rule of law in Zimbabwe when everything that is happening shows there’s an orchestrated deliberate attempt to deny anyone associated with the shutdown their basic rights.
“If a magistrates court is behaving the way it’s doing, where do you think our people will get justice? How many people can afford to go to the High Court? What this means is the majority of our people are being denied justice,” she said.
Law expert Dr Alex Magaisa concurred adding that there seems to be political involvement in the way the legal cases are being held.
“Spare a thought for the hundreds currently detained by Zimbabwean regime. Senior lawyers believe the magistracy appears to be working under political direction, completely undermining the rule of law and human rights.
“It’s a reminder of the extreme difficulty of seeking justice and recourse using the apparatus controlled by an authoritarian regime.
“There is a discernible pattern of uniformity in which magistrates across the country are mishandling cases of the detained,” he said.
Earlier in the day The Living Together Institute also posted its concern about the happenings at the Mbare Magistrates Court saying that there was chaos.
“Chaos at Mbare Magistrate’s Court illegal fast-tracking of cases. No bail for any except juveniles. Detainees not fed for at least three days. There are no laws or legal procedures being followed for those arrested in connection with shutdown protests,” it said.
The government has been falling over itself trying to control the debilitating economic situation in the country with violent unrest sparked by the sudden hike in fuel prices leaving 7 people fatally shot.