Detained Zim activist appeals as release ruled out
Lawyers for detained Zimbabwe rights activist Jestina Mukoko on Wednesday sought an appeal to the nation’s highest court, as the Attorney General ruled out her release, saying she was “a security threat”.
“We want the matter before the Constitutional Court so it can determine whether these people are properly before you,” lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa told Harare Magistrate Archie Wochiunga.
The lawyers argue that Mukoko and her 28 co-accused, all members of Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party, were victims of abductions and were brought before the court on trumped up charges.
They are accused of recruiting people to undergo military training in Botswana to topple Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe.
Mukoko, a former anchor on state television, now heads the rights group Zimbabwe Peace Project. She and her co-defendants have been taken from their homes in separate incidents since October last year and were brought to court on Christmas Eve.
They have denied the charges.
Zimbabwe’s Attorney General Johannes Tomana ruled out early release for Mukoko, saying she poses a security threat.
“Evidence gathered proves that she is a threat to society and she should not be released now,” Tomana said in an interview with the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
“She was brought to me by the investigating arms of the state and they explained to me her case of allegedly recruiting people for insurgency training.”
Humanitarian crisis worsens
Meanwhile the country’s humanitarian crisis has worsened, with nearly half the population needing food aid and the cholera epidemic claiming more than 2 100 lives since August.
The MDC on Wednesday said a two-year-old boy, detained in a Zimbabwean prison with his activist parents, has been freed after 76 days behind bars.
Nigel Mutemagawo, who was abducted by gunmen together with his parents from their home in Banket in north-western Zimbabwe, was released from detention on Tuesday, the MDC said.
He had been held with his parents, Collen Mutemagawo and Violet Mupfuranhehwe, both MDC activists who are facing terrorism charges.
A Zimbabwe court on Friday refused to drop the charges against his parents and five others.
The MDC accused Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party of violating the spirit of a unity accord signed four months ago, which has stalled amid political bickering over how to form a Cabinet.
“It confirms that Zanu-PF has become an enemy of human rights and is not sincere in implementing the [unity] agreement, which guarantees the basic rights and freedoms of individuals,” it stated.—AFP.