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Police still in the dark on Daily News bombing

Ray Matikinye

POLICE still do not have the slightest clue who bombed the Daily News printing press and are still appealing for anyone with information to come forward to help them with their investigations,

police spokesman Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said this week.

A powerful explosion ripped apart the independent daily’s printing press in the Southerton industrial area on the night of January 28 2001 a few days after the then Minister of Information and Publicity in the President’s Office and Cabinet, Jonathan Moyo, labelled the publication an enemy of the state.

“We have done what we can to investigate but do not have any information and we appeal for public assistance for us to solve a number of pending cases on our hands and the Daily News bombing is one of them,” Bvudzijena said.

On Tuesday police chief Augustine Chihuri said police would bring to book any perpetrators of crimes if a verifiable offence has happened “in line with the concept of the rule of law”.

The police have a long list of pending cases arising from a charged political atmosphere in the aftermath of a referendum that rejected a draft constitution and the popularity surge experienced by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of the 2000 poll.

A CIO operative, Joseph Mwale, has never been brought to court although he is a prime suspect in the murder of MDC activists Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya in Buhera. Mwale is believed to be still on government’s payroll.

Bvudzijena said a docket on the case had been sent to the Attorney General’s Office for consideration and processing. But the Director of Public Prosecutions in the Attorney General’s Office, Joseph Musakwa, said the case was not yet ready for the courts.

“We have the docket but cannot proceed because one of the accused is still outstanding. Ask Bvudzijena if police have the third accused in their custody for us to proceed,” Musakwa said.

There are several cases that have remained unsolved, despite the latest police assurance to “bring to book perpetrators of crime”.

Richard Tonderai Machiridza, an MDC activist, was taken from his home in St Mary’s on April 13 2003 by armed police officers who accused him of taking a police officer’s handcuffs during the two day mass protest against corruption in March that year.

Machiridza was beaten while in police custody and died on April 18, Zimbabwe’s national day. Although his widow could identify a police constable Kasinamunda as part of the group that abducted her husband, nothing has since been heard about the case.

Gabriel Shumba, a human rights lawyer, was tortured with electrodes by police officers he could identify. He fled the country and asked Amnesty International to pursue his case. Although AI wrote to the Home Affairs ministry detailing the circumstances and providing the names of the perpetrators none of them were brought to court.

Bvudzijena said the police had not reopened the case relating to the abduction and subsequent murder of war veterans’ leader Cain Nkala after the suspects were acquitted by the High Court.

“We provided the courts with people we suspected of involvement in the case. We had done our job and cannot open investigations into a case that the courts have disposed of,” Bvudzijena said.

On the army deserters who caused mayhem during the last general election and were paraded before television cameras, Bvudzijena said desertion was not a criminal case and the army was the best institution to deal with such cases.

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