Commander of the Zimbabwe Defense Forces General Philip Valerio Sibanda is reported to have instructed a prosecutor handling the cases of protestors handling the cases relating to #ShutdownZimbabwe to oppose bail for persons accused of committing crime wearing army regalia.
The revelations came out during the court appearance of Shepherd Magorimbo, who was last week arrested for a string of robberies committed during the protest period.
When applying for bail prosecutor Makonde opposed it saying they received a call from army commander general Valerio Sibanda ordering them not to release civilian suspects who commit offences in army uniform saying doing so would tarnish the image of the army.
The incidence confirms the reports by the Law Society of Zimbabwe that they have observed a similar trend throughout the country where the courts are abusing court procedures and denying arrested persons their constitutional rights.
Last month the Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) met with the Chief Justice, Luke Malaba, to raise concerns about the way that judicial officers are handling cases relating to the crackdown. They told him it appeared the courts were biased and that justice was not being meted out.
“Pre-trial processes and court processes appear to be collusively used to deny accused persons access to justice,” the LSZ told Justice Malaba. “Among other instances of how accused persons are being treated, the LSZ had received reports of mass trials, fast-tracked trials, the routine denial of bail, the routine dismissal of preliminary applications, refusal of access to medical treatment and the trial and detention of juveniles.”
The LSZ said the Justice Malaba had admitted that there could be an emerging pattern to the decisions and actions by judicial officers, but said this could be the result of the similarity of facts and circumstances surrounding most of the cases. He also denied that either he or the JSC had issued any directive to judicial officers to deny bail or to rule in a particular way when hearing matters relating to the violent crackdown.”