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Zim mining whistleblower denied bail

A Zimbabwean judge has refused to grant bail to Farai Maguwu, the activist who has been monitoring alleged human rights abuses in the Marange diamond fields.

Justice Chinembiri Bhunu delivered the ruling on Monday, after the application was postponed on Wednesday and Thursday last week.
The Judge denied bail on the grounds that Maguwu is faced with serious charges and the police are still investigating the matter.
Maguwu was charged under section 31 of the criminal code for the publication or communication of falsehoods prejudicial to the state.

Coinciding with the denied bail application is the three-day Kimberley Process (KP) intercessional meeting which got underway in Israel on Monday.

It is expected that much of the meeting will focus on deciding whether Zimbabwe will be permitted to export diamonds again. It will be chaired by Kimberley Process Certification Scheme chairperson, Boaz Hirsch.

Amidst mounting pressure from human rights groups across the world the Zimbabwe Minister of Mines and Mining Development, Obert Mpofu, received a letter from Hirsch on 9 June.

According to Newsday — a Zimbabwean daily — the letter set Maguwu’s release as a condition for lifting the ban on Zimbabwe’s gem exports.

But Mpofu said he would not interfere with Maguwu’s case as doing so could amount to trying to defeat the course of justice.
Maguwu has been detained since June 3, when he was arrested shortly after meeting with Kimberley Process monitor, Abbey Chikane. Maguwu had informed Chikane of human rights violations in the Chiadzwa diamond fields in Marange.

Documents allegedly produced by Maguwu and his Centre for Research and Development in the eastern city of Mutare, near the diamond fields, purported to contain hospital records, mortuary reports and burial orders of victims and interviews with survivors who identified “at least 8 perpetrators of atrocities” in the Chiadzwa diamond district, mostly senior police officers.

Chikane is however expected to recommend that Zimbabwe be allowed to resume exporting diamonds.

SW Radio Africa, an exiled Zimbabwean news broadcaster based in London, reported on Monday night that Maguwu “now has to wait for the decision of the magistrate who will review the bail ruling at the next remand hearing on Wednesday”. This is also the last day of the KP meeting in Tel Aviv.

The M&G was unable to get comment from the KP Secretariat or Boaz Hirsch.

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Lisa Steyn
Lisa Steyn is a business reporter at the Mail & Guardian. She holds a masters degree in journalism and media studies from Wits University. Her areas of interest range from energy and mining to financial services and telecommunication. When she is not poring over annual reports, Lisa can usually be found pottering about the kitchen.

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