Ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner takes min­is­ter to court

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mashudu Net­sianda

A MAN who al­legedly failed to meet the cri­te­ria to be de­clared an ex-po­lit­i­cal de­tainee has taken the Gov­ern­ment to court chal­leng­ing his ex­clu­sion.

Jimi­tias Chig­u­rugudu, through his lawyers Garikayi and Com­pany, has filed a court ap­pli­ca­tion at the Bu­l­awayo High Court cit­ing the Min­is­ter of Wel­fare Ser­vices for War Vet­er­ans, War Col­lab­o­ra­tors, Ex-Po­lit­i­cal De­tainees and Restrictees, Re­tired Colonel Tshinga Dube and the chair­per­son of the Ex-Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers, De­tainees and Restrictees Board as the re­spon­dents.

Rtd Col Dube, through lawyers from the Civil Di­vi­sion of the At­tor­ney-Gen­eral’s Of­fice, said the sec­ond re­spon­dent was non-ex­is­tent as there was no board for Ex-Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers, De­tainees and Restrictees.

Chig­u­rugudu said he served for four months at Chiredzi Prison dur­ing the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle. He went through the vet­ting process in 2007, but due to the length of his prison term, he failed to qual­ify for ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner sta­tus.

In terms of sec­tion 2 of the Ex-Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers, De­tainees and Restrictees Act, a per­son is only recog­nised as an ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner if her or she was im­pris­oned for a pe­riod of not less than six months.

Chig­u­rugudu, who claims to have or­gan­ised po­lit­i­cal meet­ings along­side the late Vice-Pres­i­dent Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo among other lib­er­a­tion icons, wants a court or­der declar­ing him an ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner in terms of sec­tion 2 of the Ex-Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers, De­tainees and Restrictees Act.

Chig­u­rugudu said he was ar­rested in Jan­uary 1976 by Rhode­sian Cen­tral In­tel­li­gence of­fi­cers and taken to Tri­an­gle Po­lice Sta­tion for vi­o­lat­ing the Law and Or­der Main­te­nance Act when he mo­bilised masses to at­tend a po­lit­i­cal meet­ing.

“I was ar­rested in Jan­uary 1976 for mo­bil­is­ing masses to at­tend the UANC po­lit­i­cal meet­ing in De­cem­ber 1975. I was tried be­fore a court of law which con­victed and sen­tenced me to five years in jail with­out op­tion of a fine of which four-and-a half years were sus­pended. Con­se­quently, I was de­tained at Chiredzi Prison on Fe­bru­ary 18, 1977 and re­leased on June 18, 1977 af­ter ef­fec­tively serv­ing my sen­tence. I spent four months in jail af­ter two months were re­mit­ted,” said Chig­u­rugudu.

He ar­gued that he qual­i­fied to be de­clared an ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner by virtue of the re­stric­tion im­posed on him by the sus­pended sen­tence.

“The sus­pended sen­tence re­stricted me from par­tic­i­pat­ing in any po­lit­i­cal gath­er­ings or vi­o­lat­ing the Law Main­te­nance and Or­der Act for five years. My un­der­stand­ing is that if one is sen­tenced to six months in prison and they end up spend­ing even a month, it does not mean that they did not ef­fec­tively serve six months im­pris­on­ment. I there­fore qual­ify to be de­clared an ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner as I meet the min­i­mum re­quire­ments,” said Chig­u­rugudu.

Rtd Col Dube said Chig­u­rugudu failed to meet the re­quire­ments.

“The ap­pli­cant does not qual­ify as an ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­oner in terms of sec­tion 2 of the Ex-Po­lit­i­cal Pris­on­ers, De­tainees and Restrictees Act, which ex­pressly pro­vides for im­pris­on­ment and de­ten­tion of up to a pe­riod of at least six months. The Act does no re­fer to the sen­tence, but the ac­tual pe­riod of de­ten­tion served which qual­i­fies one to be de­clared a po­lit­i­cal de­tainee or re­strictee,” he said.

The Gov­ern­ment pays ex-po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers, de­tainees and restrictees monthly gra­tu­ities for their con­tri­bu­tion to the lib­er­a­tion strug­gle.

Re­tired Colonel Tshinga Dube

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