THE seven men accused of plotting to stage a coup last year have asked the High Court to refer their case to the Supreme Court where they intend to challenge the constitutionality of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.
Albert Matapo, Nyasha Zivuku, Oncemore Mudzurahona, Emmanuel Marara, Patson Mupfure, Shingirai Mutemachani and Rangarirai Mazivofa were arrested for allegedly plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe.
The lawyer representing the seven accused, Charles Warara, in an application lodged with the High Court on Tuesday, said he wanted the matter referred to the Supreme Court in terms of provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
He argued said the Act was not in line with the constitution as it tended to replace the Roman Dutch Law being used in the country.
Wararaâ€™s application read: “Be pleased to take notice that the applicants hereby apply for referral of this matter to the Supreme Court in terms of Section 1 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, that is to say the applicants allege that the Declaration of Rights as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe, that is Section 18 (1) (2) and (5), that is to say their right to protection of the law is being or likely to be contravened in that the charge as it stands does not comply with Section 89 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe as Section 3 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act purports to set aside the operation of Roman Dutch Law in Zimbabwe.”
The lawyer argued that the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act was clearly not in keeping with the Roman Dutch Law in operation as the changes effected in the offences did not exist under common law.
“The effect being that the law becomes supreme to the Roman Dutch Law as it no longer can be used in charging anyone with an offence but all cases dealt with under common law carry persuasive authority now and have no binding authority on the judiciary of Zimbabwe,” the application says.
The seven alleged coup plotters, according to the state, incited members of the security forces to overthrow Mugabeâ€™s government.
The stateâ€™s case against Matapo and his co-accused is that sometime in May last year they concerted with a common purpose unlawfully and with the intention of overthrowing the government of Zimbabwe instigated Captain Shepherd Maromo, Captain Olivine Maroala, Corporal Elias Gape, Charles Nyashadzashe Mufudze, Sergeant Owen Bafana and Ronald Matanga, members of the Zimbabwe National Army and the Airforce of Zimbabwe, to cause the armed forces to overthrow government through a coup.
Yesterday, the High Court further remanded the coup plotters in custody to July 28. They have been languishing in prison since their arrest in May last year.
By Lucia Makamure