ZIMBABWE – The High Court yesterday relaxed bail conditions for Sunday Mail editor Edmund Kudzayi and his brother Phillip. They are facing charges of attempting to subvert a constitutionally-elected Government by waging “cyber-terrorism”.
Edmund and Phillip were in July ordered to report twice daily to CID Law and Order Section in Harare. They are now reporting twice every week on Monday and Friday. Justice Joseph Musakwa also scrapped the condition confining the duo to a 40km radius of Harare. This was after their lawyer Mr Admire Rubaya of Rubaya and Chatambudza law firm successfully argued against the stringent bail conditions.
Edmund paid $5 000 bail for the main charge and $200 for the lesser offence of violating the Firearms Act. Phillip, who is facing one count of attempting to subvert the Government, is on $5 000 bail. In the application to vary the bail conditions, Edmund submitted that he was still Sunday Mail editor, though on suspension.
Mr Rubaya said Edmund was also a farmer in Nyava area in Mashonaland Central and he needed freedom of movement to carry out his business. “With these restrictive bail conditions, it would be very difficult for him to manage any operations at the farm given that at all material times, he needs to be in Harare so that he would be able to report twice daily,” he said.
“The new farming season has begun, more reason why a positive variation of bail conditions will be in the interest of justice.” Mr Rubaya said the conditions that were already in place were excessive and constituted some pre-trial penalty.
The court also heard that Phillip, an architect, was still employed by Kunaka Consulting Engineers and his job required a lot of travelling.
He feared losing his job due to the stringent bail conditions. The pair argued that the third suspect in the case, Romeo Musemburi, enjoys relaxed bail conditions. Musemburi, a UZ student, was granted $100 bail and was ordered to report to the police once a week.
No travel restrictions were imposed on him. They argued that there was no justifiable reason for the court to treat the suspects facing the same charges differently. It was also submitted that the police failed to complete their investigations by July 20 as per their undertaking. Chief law officer Mr Tawanda Zvekare consented to the application. He insisted that the matter was serious and that progress had been made in the extra-territorial investigations.
“We confirm that the applicants have been obeying their bail conditions without incident. The State is satisfied that the applicants are secured for trial by the current bail conditions. Be that as it may, it is submitted that the interests of justice will still be served if the applicants’ reporting conditions are varied to once a day between the hours of 6am and 6pm,” he said.
“All the other conditions should remain in place as this is what is helping to make applicants available for trial.