Thursday, June 19, 2008

Magistrate defies high court order on Matinenga

RUSAPE – A regional magistrate has defied a High Court order to release incarcerated top lawyer and MDC MP –elect, Eric Matinenga, whop was arrested on charges of inciting public violence.
Herbert Mandeya, a regional magistrate in Harare, presided over Matinenga’s case after all magistrates in Rusape had recused themselves on varying reasons.
Matinenga was arrested a day after he had been cleared of any wrongdoing by a senior magistrate in Mutare on charges that he was involved in public violence that had flared up in his constituency.
But surprisingly, Matinenga was re-arrested on the same charges he had been acquitted of by Hlekani Mwayera in Mutare.
After his second arrest on same charges his lawyers petitioned the High Court and Justice Chitakunye ordered his immediate release.
But Mandeya, sitting in Rusape declined to obey the High Court order saying the allegations were the same but the charges were different.
Matinenga was taken to court after languishing in police cells for almost a week.
The State, led by Tawanda Zvakare of the Attorney General’s office, said Matinenga was facing the same allegations but the charges had been altered to that of inciting public violence instead of involvement in public violence.
The State alleged the MP-elect incited public violence in Buhera West on 28 and 31 May respectively.
According to Trust Maanda, one of his lawyers, the court established that Matinenga was in Harare on 28 May representing a client at the regional courts. The client is James Mushore, the former NMB executive facing allegations of committing financial crimes.
But the court said he had a case to answer on the second count.
He was granted bail with very stringent measures but Zvakare of the AG’s office lodged an appeal, which meant Matinenga would remain incacerated pending the noting of the appeal.
Maanda said the State has up to seven days to file the appeal meaning Matinenga will have to remain in custody all that time.
“All this is in violation of a high Court order granted by Justice Chitakunye,” Maanda, a human rights lawyer, said. “We are lodging an immediate appeal at the High Court. All along they are holding him illegally.”
Maanda said by refusing to allow him get freed under very stringent measures it was clear the State was determined, at all cost, to ensure Matinenga continues to be incarcerated.
The magistrate had ordered Matinenga to surrender title deeds of one of his immovable properties, deposit ZW$500 billion cash and to report everyday between 6am and 6pm to the nearest police station.
“Effectively it was meant to immobilize him but the State insisted that in spite of these very stringent conditions he must be denied bail,” said Maanda. “The State is so determined to have him incarcerated.”

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