Zimbabwe / High Court denies Mukoko bail
HARARE, Zimbabwe, February 6, 2009/African Press Organization (APO)/ — High Court judge Justice Chitakunye on 4 February 2009 dismissed the application for bail by detained Zimbabwe Peace Project director Jestina Mukoko on the basis that she has not been formally charged and remanded by the magistrates’ court.
In dismissing the application, Justice Chitakunye said: “It is my view in this matter that to seek to apply for bail is more like the applicant (Mukoko) saying to the court, before you hear my case, give me bail first.” The judge said the state should first inform the accused of the preferred charges before an application for bail is lodged.
However, Mukoko’s lawyer Harrison Nkomo argued that the submission that an arrested person should first proceed to remand proceedings in order to be able to apply for bail was misdirected. He said the very fact of being in custody entitled the applicant to apply for bail. The state, on the other hand, contended that the judgment was procedurally legally sound adding that the applicant should first be formally remanded or charged.
Justice Chitakunye further denied Nkomo leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on the basis that the judge had erred in his determination of the matter and that the right to appeal was absolute. The defence submitted that the court had been too restrictive in its interpretation of the term “appear on a charge” and that given the importance of the matter it was crucial that it be heard by another superior court to either confirm or vary the High Court judgment.
The judge nevertheless dismissed the prayer for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court saying “the demerits far outweighed the merits”. He did not elaborate on the purported merits or demerits.
SOURCE : Media Institute of South Africa (MISA)