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Judge warns perpetrators of political violence – Chronicle

The Chronicle

Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief

BULAWAYO High Court Judge Justice Martin Makonese has warned perpetrators of political violence that the courts are ready to deal decisively with acts and conduct aimed at causing chaos in the country in the run up to this year’s general elections.

Officially opening the 2023 Gweru High Court Circuit yesterday, Justice Makonese said as the country prepares for the 2023 harmonised elections, it is hoped that the prevailing peace in the country will be maintained. 

He said the country is enjoying general peace and tranquility attesting to the existence of a stable environment of liberty in which individuals pursue their business freely. 

“On its part, the judiciary is ready to perform its constitutional mandate as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe. In terms of section 164 of the Constitution, the independence of the judiciary is guaranteed. 

“To that extent, any person who shall disturb the general peace that is prevailing must be warned that the courts are ready to deal decisively with those that cause violence, chaos or any other such conduct designed to disturb the peace in the country,” he said.

Justice Makonese said Zimbabwe is a constitutional democracy and as such elections must be conducted in a free and fair atmosphere. 

He said members of the public who shall violate the laws of the country will only have themselves to blame. 

“It is important to underscore the fact that peace and security are at the core of any functional democracy. Any political contestation among political parties must be done within the confines of the laws of Zimbabwe. Political violence has no place in a democratic state,” he said.

Justice Makonese said there has been an upsurge in murder cases in the country in every province. 

“The High Courts in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo, Mutare and Chinhoyi deal with a huge volume of murder cases. These cases usually arise out of petty disputes and misunderstandings. In a number of cases, the courts have dealt with a significant number of murder cases arising from domestic disputes. 

“I call upon traditional leaders and elders to assist in resolving domestic disputes, mainly arising out of incidents of infidelity and cases involving crimes of passion,” he said.

Justice Makonese said the judiciary shall apply the law effectively without fear or favour on all cases brought before them. 

“Stiff custodial sentences shall be imposed in appropriate cases. Those who harbour and assist perpetrators of violent crime must be warned that the long arm of the law will catch up with them,” he said.

Justice Makonese said the number of mining disputes being brought before the courts were on the increase. 

These disputes, he said, range from boundary disputes over mining locations, farmer and miner disputes, disputes relating to over-pegging and encroachment onto existing mining blocks.

“I urge the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development to equip the Provincial Mining Directors (PMD)in the various provinces with sufficient skills and resources to handle and determine mining disputes,” he said.

Justice Martin Makonese

Justice Makonese said in terms of section 354 of the Mines and Minerals Act, the PMD is empowered to grant an injunction in respect of any mining location in the area of their jurisdiction where a complaint is raised that the holder of mining rights has been obstructed or interfered with in the enjoyment of his/her rights in respect of the mining claims. 

The Act, he said empowers the PMD to deal with issues of encroachment as provided under Section 353 of the Act.

“It is important to note, however, that the Provincial Mining Directors should act impartially and in accordance with the law where disputes arise. It is improper for a Provincial Mining Director to simply issue a letter ordering the stoppage of mining operations at the instance of one party to a dispute without carrying out thorough investigations,” said Justice Makonese.

He said it has come to the attention of the courts that in some cases, mining operations are ordered to cease in order to allow one party to loot mining resources under the pretext that a dispute has arisen. 

Justice Makonese said the courts are inundated with mining disputes. 

“The same cases are litigated over and over again, with the same parties and same subject matter. This practice must stop. What is of concern is that in specific cases two or more individuals/entities, are issued Certificates of Registration with respect to mining claims in the same location. This scenario raises a lot of questions and suspicions and must be urgently addressed by the Ministry,” he said.

Justice Makonese said it has been noted that in most trials, senior lawyers tend to assign junior and inexperienced legal practitioners to handle murder trials. 

He said whilst junior lawyers need to be exposed to complex matters in the High Court, there is a need for senior lawyers to mentor and supervise young inexperienced lawyers

Justice Makonese said justice is not done where a lawyer who has never appeared in the High Court, appears for the first time to represent an accused facing a murder charge without any guidance. 

“In some cases, both the prosecutor and the legal practitioner handling the case are inexperienced, leading to a situation where the judge has to constantly intervene to assist both defence counsel and the prosecutor. This is not desirable. This gives the impression that the court is descending into the arena. I urge all senior legal practitioners to ensure that young lawyers in their respective firms are adequately supervised,” he said.

Justice Makonese said it is not fair for an accused person facing a serious offence such as murder to be represented by a legal practitioner who is literally learning on the job. 

“In the same breath all legal practitioners must adequately prepare for trial, ensuring that they familiarise themselves with the law and case law on the subject at hand,” he said.

Justice Martin Makonese

He said legal practitioners owe a duty to the court to provide accurate information to the court on any issue adding that they must render accurate and truthful legal advice to their clients. 

Justice Makonese said it is unprofessional for a legal practitioner to mislead the court and equally to give false advice to their clients. 

“It is important for legal practitioners to perform the work entrusted to them by clients with proper assiduity. He or she must render legal assistance to clients with scrupulous care and diligence. It is the duty of every attorney to endeavour to curb every tendency of discourtesy in all relationships, professional and otherwise. The temptation to write insulting letters to fellow legal practitioners should be resisted.  I urge legal practitioners to uphold the law and at all material times, a lawyer must further the administration of justice to the best of his or her ability,” he said.

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law an courts

Zimbabwean Embassy To Launch A Plan For The Return Of ZEP … – The Zimbabwe Mail

The Zimbabwean embassy in South Africa is expected to launch a strategic plan for the return of the Zimbabwean Exemption Permit (ZEP) holders.

South Africa cancelled the ZEP facility last year stating that holders will not be allowed to reside, work or learn in that country beyond 30 June 2023 if they cannot find alternative legal permission to live there.

About 180 000 Zimbabweans face deportation.

Several lobby groups met last week at the University of Cape Town to discuss the upcoming court bid to oppose the government’s decision to scrap the ZEP.

A lawyer representing permit holders, Advocate Simba Chitando, told SABC News that the Zimbabwean government is not responsible for the decision to terminate the ZEP. He added:

In my view, all the Zim government can do is make provisions to accept the Zim nationals who may want to return to Zimbabwe. It looks like the Zim government is saying that for those who wish to return, I got the sense that it is a voluntary exercise, and they are doing what any government would do when there is a crisis in a foreign country, to make provisions for the return of its own people.

South Africa’s cancellation of special permits for foreign nationals is part of a broad exercise of reviewing its immigration policies to manage an influx of economic migrants.

It is viewed as the government’s response to intensified calls and efforts by South African nationals who have over the years been calling for the ejection of foreign nationals whom they argue were taking their jobs and business opportunities.

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Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood has charges … – New

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Manchester Evening News

Mason Greenwood has had criminal proceedings against him discontinued.

Charges against Manchester United footballer Mason Greenwood have been dropped.

Greater Manchester Police have announced today that criminal proceedings against the 21-year-old have today been discontinued. The 21-year-old striker had been charged with attempted rape, engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour and assault, allegations relating to the same woman.

But in a statement today, Chief Superintendent Michaela Kerr, GMP’s Head of Public Protection, said: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.

“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.

“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.

“I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them. An ever increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims.

“If you feel you are or might be a victim, please don’t let this case put you off asking for help.”

A CPS spokesperson said: “We have a duty to keep cases under continuous review. In this case a combination of the withdrawal of key witnesses and new material that came to light meant there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction. In these circumstances, we are under a duty to stop the case.

“We have explained our decision to all parties. We would always encourage any potential victims to come forward and report to police and we will prosecute wherever our legal test is met.”

Greenwood, who joined United aged six, has been suspended by the club during the court process. He has not played professional football for a year. The last game he played for United was the Premier League fixture against West Ham on January 22 last year.

About a week later, on January 30, Greenwood was arrested after a woman made a series of posts on Twitter. He was arrested and has been suspended by United ever since.

The following day, his sponsor Nike announced it had suspended its relationship with the footballer, later confirming the partnership had ended. Prosecutors charged Greenwood with the three offences about eight months later, in October.

He appeared before magistrates on October 17 and then before a judge at Minshull Street a month later, on November 21.

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law an courts

Vast Resources expects historic diamond parcel release in coming days –

(Alliance News) – Vast Resources PLC on Thursday said the High Court of Zimbabwe has granted a default order against the Minister of Mines & Mining Development, in relation to the release of a historic parcel of diamonds.

The London-based mining company with projects in Romania and Zimbabwe said the High Court order for the release of the parcel of 129,400 carats of rough diamonds is expected to be signed in the coming days.

The company said the High Court should allow for a “lawful and transparent” process to begin for the release of the historic parcel to the company.

Vast Resources said the stones would be independently cleaned and valued, before being sold via a tender process. The company noted that once these processes have been finalised, it will refocus on other opportunities in Zimbabwe.

The diamonds have been held in the custody of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe since 2010, pending the determination of an appeal against the High Court’s decision in 2009. Vast resources began formal legal action in the High Court of Zimbabwe in December 2022.

Chief Executive Officer Andrew Prelea said: “Despite taking longer than anticipated, I am very pleased to announce that after many years of hard work and discussion with the Zimbabwean Government the matter regarding the release of the historic parcel has now been amicably settled in a manner supported by an Order of the High Court of Zimbabwe.

“This demonstrates the Zimbabwe Government’s and in particular His Excellency President Cmd. E D Mnangagwa’s commitment to resolving legacy issues related to investment in Zimbabwe in a transparent and legal manner for the mutual benefit of investors and the Country.”

Vast Resources shares were down 14% trading at 0.68 pence per share on Thursday afternoon in London.

By Harvey Dorset, Alliance News reporter

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