Jestina Mukoko – Zimbabwe

Linked with Zimbabwean prisoners Jestina Mukoko and Broderick Takawira released, with Top Zimbabwean rights activist poisoned in custody, with Joint Nordic initiative on Zimbabwe, Journalists abducted in Zimbabwe.

Jestina Mukoko is a Zimbabwean human rights activist and the director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project.

A journalist by training, and former newsreader with the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, she was abducted from her home north of Harare on December 3, 2008. A witness said that twelve armed men abducted Mukoko at night from her home. Dumisani Muleya of Business Day said that she was “abducted by suspected state agents for allegedly being involved in plans for anti government demonstrations.” One week later the Zimbabwe High Court ordered the Zimbabwe Republic Police to look for Mukoko. On December 24, it was reported by the state-run Herald newspaper that Mukoko had appeared in court in Harare to face charges of attempting to recruit people for military training to try to overthrow the government. Her whereabouts during the previous three weeks were unclear and the Zimbabwean police denied opposition claims that she was in their custody. Along with several other individuals, Mukoko was remanded in custody and the case referred to the Zimbabwean High Court … (on wikipedia, last modified on 6 March 2009).

I met Jestina Mukoko two years ago at the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust. She was working on an innovative peace-building program for ZIMCET, one that brought together political opponents in small towns and cities across Zimbabwe to work together to stop violence that had become so routine during all political elections. One man from Chimanimani we met with said the program had changed his life … (full text, December 10, 2008).

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Jestina Mukoko – Zimbabwe

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On Jestina Mukoko’s release:

  • … Magistrate Mishrod Guvamombe granted Mukoko bail in the amount of US$600. She must now report twice a week to police in Norton, about 30 kilometers northwest of Harare where home is located, and surrender the deed to her residence. Though technically free on bail, Mukoko, director of the Zimbabwe Peace Project, remained in the Avenues Clinic in Harare where for some weeks she had been receiving court-ordered treatment under police guard for injuries sustained during her ordeal. (full text, 02 March 2009).
  • … Mukoko was kidnapped December 3 and remained missing for a month until police produced her and proceeded to bring the coup conspiracy charges against her. Her Zimbabwe Peace Project compiles extensive documentation of human rights abuses. It was a major source of information on political violence mainly directed at MDC members in the aftermath of the March 2008 presidential, general and local elections … (full text, March 3, 2009).
  • … The release of Ms Mukoko and the others in Harare, constitutes an important victory for the Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, who had been pressing Mr Mugabe to let them go. Ms Mukoko, who headed a group that documented state-sponsored acts of murder and torture committed before Mr Mugabe’s June election run-off against Mr Tsvangirai, was held for weeks in secret locations. She was beaten on the soles of her feet and forced to kneel on gravel during interrogation intended to force her to confess to recruiting youths for military training in Botswana … (full text, March 4, 2009).
  • … Both were victims of enforced disappearance, unlawful arrest, detention, and torture by state security agents. They were released on Saturday, after each paying US$600 bail and depositing surety of at least US$20,000 in title deeds. A third man, Fidelis Chiramba was also released. He remains in hospital receiving treatment. Ten other detainees were granted bail. Four are likely to be released shortly. The other six will remain in custody because they are unable to present title deeds as part of the bail requirements. Three other detainees, Andrison Manyere, Gandhi Mudzingwa and Kisimusi Dhlamini were denied bail. On Tuesday, the High Court in Harare dismissed the state’s application opposing granting bail to Roy Bennett, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) treasurer general who was arrested by police in February. The MDC is anxious to see whether the state will comply with the court order. “While welcoming news about the release of Jestina Mukoko, Broderick Takawira and Fidelis Charamba and the granting of bail of 11 other political detainees, we also call on the Zimbabwean government to immediately end persecution of human rights defenders and political activists,” said Veronique Aubert, Deputy Programme Director for Amnesty International’s Africa Programme. More than a dozen detainees remain in custody in Zimbabwe and they seem to have all been arrested simply for exercising their rights to freedom of association and expression … (full text, March 4, 2009).
  • THE deal between the Attorney-General (AG)’s office and defence lawyers for political detainees to drop cases against the state in exchange for bail will not stop the accused from suing the government or the people responsible for their abductions and torture, legal experts said yesterday. The pact, which saw the release of several human rights and MDC activists, among them Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko, was made at a meeting held last Friday between senior officials from the AG’s office and defence lawyers representing the activists. According to Veritas, a group of lawyers, the state’s condition for withdrawal of all defence applications currently pending in the High Court and the Supreme Court was a limited one. The lawyers said:  “It does not prevent future legal action by the abductees against the state and the state agents responsible for their abduction, unlawful detention and torture” … (full text, 06 March 2009).

Find her and her publications on Google Video-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Images-search; on Google News-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Blog-search.

… The Mukoko saga is therefore an opportunity for the nation to reflect on some of the ills still bedevilling us notwithstanding the formation of the GNU. However egregious their supposed crimes – and let’s not forget Botswana and South Africa have rejected the charges of militia training as ludicrous and self-serving – the activists did not deserve to be abducted, tortured, beaten on the soles of their feet and denied medical attention. Then there has been the abuse of Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act to deny suspects release on bail even when the High Court had granted them bail. The section provides prosecutors with the opportunity to file a notice of intention to appeal against a bail ruling. By noting an intention to appeal, a magistrate’s order to release a suspect is immediately suspended, giving the prosecution seven days to prepare an appeal, during which time the accused must remain in police custody. This law has been employed selectively in political cases and has no place in a democratic society. MDC treasurer Roy Bennett who was granted bail by the High Court has also been a victim of this cynical manoeuvre by the state. He was granted bail by the High Court last week and the state immediately invoked Section 121 to keep him behind bars. Now the state has appealed to the Supreme Court to reverse the decision of the High Court. That is political punishment writ large … (full text, 05 March 2009).

On Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s wife’s car accident on Friday night:

  • Tsvangirai’s car (has been) hit by US contractor’s truck, March 7, 2009; … and: Zimbabwe’s Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was injured and his wife Susan was killed in a car crash late on Friday, party officials confirmed, adding that suspicious circumstances could indicate foul play … and: Cross said an early investigation team sent to the spot immediately after the accident occurred reported that the front left tyre had had a blowout. “They were taking videos and pictures and then the police came and arrested them, and took their videos and pictures,” he said. “We don’t like that.” (full text, March 7, 2009);
  • JOHANNESBURG – The fatal car accident on Friday night, killing the wife of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and injuring Mr. Tsvangirai himself, has left many Zimbabweans suspicious about whether this was truly an accident, or  an attempted assassination. Tsvangirai himself says the truck that sideswiped his car, drove “deliberately” at him. But members of his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party say that they are withholding judgment as they carry out their own investigation in parallel with that of the police … // … Yet, today, MDC secretary general and Zimbabwe’s finance minister Tendai Biti said that the car accident could have been avoided if Tsvangirai had been given a proper security detail befitting a prime minister. “Logic would have demanded that police escort be provided to the prime minister to warn other traffic, and this tragedy could have been avoided,” Mr. Biti told reporters in Harare. When speaking of Tsvangirai’s late wife, Susan, Mr. Biti became emotional. “She was a pillar of strength. She was always there for the President and for the party.” Accidental or intentional, the death of Susan Tsvangirai is likely to have a profound effect on the prime minister and his party. “This comes at a very difficult time, particularly for Morgan,” says Mr. Tungwarara. “To lose a loved one and someone who was a pillar of strength, who helped him get through very rough times, it doesn’t help out, given the stress levels that MDC members are experiencing.” (full text, March 7, 2009).

links:

Some few Google Groups discussing Zimbabwe: soc.culture.zimbabwe; Zimbabwe Fight On Dont mourn; PEN KENYA CHAPTER; Swaziland Solidarity Network Forum ( with a contribution); Zambia social forum; FJD info (This group is announcement-only /with African items);

Alerte Google – droits de l’homme;

Watershed for Mugabe as soldiers rampage, Dec 4, 2008;

Zimbabwe court orders police to look for activist, Dec 9, 2008;

Zimbabwe court dismisses state challenge to Bennett bail, March 3, 2009;

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