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The trials and tribulations of human rights defender, Darlington Madzonga

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition member, Darlington Madzonga is among the victims of persecution by prosecution having been arrested on numerous occasions as the state continues to clampdown on dissent.

Below, we publish his trials and tribulations and the hands of the state;

  • 1. July 12, 2017 - There was a demonstration on electoral reforms in Harare’s Central Business District. Darlington Madzonga was arrested at the corner of Jason Moyo and Chinhoyi street around 14:00 hours. He was subsequently assaulted heavily by members of the police reaction unit before being detained at Harare Central Police Station.

  • 2. July 14, 2017 - After spending two nights in custody at Harare Central prison, Darlington Madzonga appeared for initial remand at the Harare Magistrates Court facing two charges, the first one being of malicious damage to property and the other one being murder of a police officer. For the Malicious damage to property charge, bail ruling was reserved to Monday 17 July, which was granted. On initial appearance a complaint of assault was raised and the court ordered an investigation. On the murder charge he was advised to make that application at the High Court. He was remanded in custody at the Harare Central Prison.

  • 3. July 26, 2017 - High Court judge Priscilla Chigumba denied Darlington Madzonga and did not give reasons for denying Madzonga bail

  • 4. September 20 2017- After spending 70 days in detention at Harare Central Prison, bail was finally granted on changed circumstances by Justice Emmy Tsanga. The bail conditions were to report at Glen View Police Station three times a week, deposit $200 with the Clerk of Court, surrender passport to the Clerk of Court and not to interfere with witnesses.

  • 5. November 9-10, 2017. Darlington Madzonga appeared before an investigating committee that comprised of Officers in Charge of Mbare, Matapi and Stodart police stations. Despite the investigating committee having interviewed Madzonga in order to compile a report of assault, the report was never produced in court. Trial for malicious damage to property charges failed to kick off after the state failed to submit a report in court.

  • 6. November 14, 2017 – Madzonga made a report of assault against two police officers who had arrested him in July 2017. Harare Central Police officers failed to act on the report regardless of the fact that he had submitted a self recorded statement and a reference number issued under (IR110921)

  • 7. May 14, 2018- High Court judge, Justice Tsanga granted an application for variation of bail conditions meaning Darlington Madzonga was now reporting once a month on the last Friday of each month at Glen View police station.

  • 8. March 4, 2019- A refusal of remand was granted by a Harare Magistrate on the malicious damage to property case. The state was ordered to proceed by way of summons. After the order, a total of six summonses were issued with the court insisting on the state to submit a report on complaints against the police which was ordered on the 14th of July 2017.

  • 9. August 15, 2020- After several attempts to have the murder case removed from remand or indicted to the High court for trial, a Harare Magistrate finally removed the matter from remand and the state was advised to proceed by way of summons on the case.

  • 10. Of the two charges, none of them reached even the trial stage, a clear case that the investigations were shoddy and half-done. The arresting officers acted outside the constitution.

There is nothing much to celebrate about the state granting Madzonga’s application of removal from remand since he was not supposed to have been on remand in the first place. Removal from remand does not mean the end of the case since the state can proceed by way of summons.

Madzonga is a victim of persecution by prosecution and indeed a prisoner of conscience.

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