Harare criminal lawyer Jonathan Samkange (of Venturas and Samkange) was briefly arrested by police in Harare on Monday
17th May 2010, in a move the outspoken lawyer says is continuing
harassment by the police.
Jonathan Samkange was summoned
to appear in court on allegations of making a false statement under oath
in a case . He is
accused of having lied under oath after
deposing an affidavit at the High Court claiming that his client, Africa
Consolidated Resources boss Andrew Noel Cranswick, was arrested for
unlawfully possessing diamonds in 2006.
The state controlled Herald newspaper reported
that the prominent lawyer had 'fled arrest' after a Harare magistrate
issued him with a warrant for not appearing in court, to face charges of
Samkange said the report in the Herald was
'false, malicious and defamatory'. He denied running away from the
police. He told SW Radio Africa that he was 'accosted' by police officers
as he entered the magistrates court around 9am for the court hearing on
the perjury charges.
His hearing was supposed to start at 8:30, but
he says he had called the public prosecutor earlier on to say he was
running late and was assured it would be okay. He was also told that
court hearings usually failed to start on time. The Harare magistrate issued the warrant at around
8:30am when the lawyer did not show up.
Samkange, who was clad in a designer suit, arrived at
the court around 8:40am and as he was entering the court building, he was
greeted by police detectives who were armed with the warrant issued
detectives caught up with Samkange when he stopped to pick up his mobile
phones which had dropped to the ground.They whisked him off to Matapi
Police Station in Mbare where he was detained.
Upon arrival Samkange said he was surprised to
be stopped by police who wanted to arrest him for failing to turn up for
his court hearing, even though he was already in the courthouse and had
only been a few minutes late. He said he started making noise to alert
his colleagues in the legal fraternity, that he was about to be arrested.
shouted at fellow lawyers who were at the court attending to their cases
to alert them that he was being arrested."Muchadehama ndavakusungwa
(Muchadehama I am being arrested)," shouted the lawyer who had
spotted a colleague, Mr Alec Muchadehama, in the crowd.
Samkange was taken to Matapi Police Station in
Mbare, and yhen to Pondo's
Samkange was brought
to court in the afternoon. The warrant was cancelled after Samkange
explained why he was late for court.
perjury case then went to trial and was heard by another magistrate, Mr
Archie Wochiunga. Samkange who was the ACR lawyer, Africa Consolidated Resources
chief executive Andrew Noel Cranswick filed an urgent chamber application
at the High Court seeking to bar police from "arresting and
detaining" him on charges he said the State had already dropped. The
application which was filed was related to charges stemming from
Cranswick's alleged illegal acquisition of diamonds, including 129 000
carats recovered from the company.
As a result of the affidavit with
that claim, the State alleges, High Court Judge Justice Tedious Karwi then
granted an order stopping police from arresting Cranswick on the facts
submitted by Samkange. The State alleges that the High Court order was granted on the basis
of a false statement and is now charging Samkange with perjury under the
Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act for making a false statement
on his perjury charges, Samkange maintains his client was arrested in
2006 and that the onus is on the police to prove that he wasn't. He also
said that the police have a shambolic records system and that 'in court
one of the police officers was writing information on toilet tissue'.
his defence outline, Samkange denied that he lied under oath and
maintained that his client had at one time been arrested by police.
lawyer said the allegations against him were malicious and defamatory.r
Edmore Nyazamba of the Attorney-General's Office led evidence from the
first State witness, Senior Assistant Commissioner Silence Pondo, who is
the Officer Commanding the Minerals Unit and Border Control.
In May 2007, Jonathan Samkange was picked up from his
Harare home, and taken to Avondale police station where he was later
transferred to Rhodesville police station without being told anything.
The next morning he was taken to CID headquarters, and later moved to the
Attorney General’s Office where he finally got an explanation. Samkange
was representing Mann, a former British special forces officer wanted by
Equatorial Guinea on allegations of plotting a coup there.
Jonathan Samkange, was
arrested for allegedly falsifying information on a visa application for a
witness in the case, Duye Chikambo,
a politician from Equatorial Guinea who Samkange intended to call
to support Simon Mann’s claiming that if he were to be extradited to
Equatorial Guinea he would be tortured. Samkange revealed that Chikambo
will not step foot in Zimbabwe because the moment he lands at the airport
the Zimbabwean government will deport him to Equatorial Guinea. Chikambo
himself spent six months in jail on charges of plotting a coup in the
West African country. Samkange said he would have given evidence that was
direct because he had been subjected to the torture.
Samkange denied the
accusations. He was released after the state withdrew charges against him
due to lack of evidence. Although it’s been reported that he was accused
of violating a section of the Immigration Act prosecutors had indicated
to a Magistrate Court they were unable to proceed with the case for lack
of evidence against Samkange.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe expressed its "utmost disgust"
at the unwarranted arrest of a Harare senior legal practitioner Mr
Jonathan Samkange as a result of a warrant of arrest issued against him
for failure to appear in Court on time.
PLEASE TAKE ACTION NOW
The IDHAE LETTER TO ADRESSES BELOW
A LETTER TO :
President Robert G. Mugabe
Office of the President
Samora Machel Avenue
Box 7700 Causeway
[Your name here]
I would like to express my concern about the situation of my colleague human rights lawyer and senior legal
practitioner Mr Jonathan Samkange arrested on May 17th 2010, as a result
of a warrant of arrest issued against him for failure to appear in Court
I am reliably
informed that Mr Samkange
was arrested at 8.40 am on his way into court though at that time the
arresting officers had not obtained the signed warrant. The police
officers took him to Matapi and Harare police stations were they sought
to detain him without success thereby denying him his liberty unlawfully
I understand that the fact that Mr Samkange was
taken to court by the arresting officers at 2.30pm is a clear indication
that the police did not arrest Mr Samkange in the furtherance of justice.
The arrest defies any logic as the purpose of the warrant was to
bring him to court not to secure detention. This is a clear abuse of
power and authority to harass and intimidate lawyers who represent
clients of their choice who may happen to be unpopular with police or
Lawyers are as of right entitled to execute their professional
duties to clients of their own choice without interference.
The detaining of a lawyer for no apparent cause is tantamount to
impingement of rule of law and independence of the profession.
I call upon the Police
officers to treat Lawyers with due respect and to desist from abusing
their office to maliciously persecute and cause vindictive prosecution
In this context, we wish
to draw to your attention the following Articles of the United
Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers (1990):
Article 16 states that:
ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional
functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper
interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients
freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not
suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economics
or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognized
professional duties, standards and ethics.
The Government of Zimbabwe is under an obligation to ensure that
lawyers carry out their professional duties without fear, intimidation,
obstruction, harassment, persecution or unwarranted interference.
I urge the Government of Zimbabwe to ensure that the charges
against him will be unconditionally and immediately dropped.
TAKE ACTION NOW !
PLEASE WRITE IMMEDIATELY