Former Bikita West MP Munyaradzi Kereke’s bid to secure temporary freedom while executing his appeal against both conviction and sentence over a rape matter, went up in smoke after his application was dismissed by High Court judge Justice Happias Zhou.
The advisor to former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono was in July this year slapped with an effective 10-year jail term after being convicted of sexually abusing his 11-year-old-niece at gunpoint.
Following his conviction, Kereke, through his lawyers Advocates Thabani Mpofu and Sylvester Hashiti, filed a bail pending appeal application arguing he had prospects of success on appeal.
However, in dismissing the application, Justice Zhou said while it was accepted that there were some inconsistencies in the girl’s evidence, that would not warrant justification in releasing Kereke on bail.
“The learned magistrate considered inconsistencies in the complainant’s evidence and attributed them to the fact that she was a child….”Justice Zhou said.
“The court has no difficulty in accepting as justified some of the criticisms by the applicant of the evidence of the complainant. If the question of the prospects of success on appeal were to be considered by reference to the complainant’s statements alone or were the only consideration in this matter, the court would have readily granted the application in this matter.”
The judge added: “However, the evidence of the complainant has to be considered in its totality and not piecemeal or in isolation from the rest of the evidence including that of the accused person. That was the approach that was taken by the learned magistrate. Also the prospect of success of the appeal is only one of the other factors and it is not decisive on its own, but has to be weighed against the other factors.”
The judge also said the offence for which Kereke was convicted was a very serious one and the sentence imposed quite long.
“The length of the sentence coupled with the fact that the applicant has already been subjected to the inconveniences of prison life are factors which could induce the applicant to abscond,” he said.
“His conduct, which was found by the learned magistrate to have been disruptive of investigations and in some instances seeking to manipulate the evidence of potential State witnesses, makes his assurances that he will avail himself to complete his sentence if the appeal fails difficult to believe.
“The applicant was also not forthcoming as to the immovable properties which he has to be availed as security….the evidence from the record shows that he did not have one residential place…” the court said.
The girl’s guardian, Francis Maramwidze, hailed the court’s decision, but vowed to fight Kereke even more, adding if he continued challenging the court’s judgment he would appeal and seek a lengthy jail sentence for the convict.
“If he continues to challenge the sentence, which I feel was very lenient, I will be forced to also appeal and make sure the court adds more years since this was not an ordinary rape, but a gun was used,” he said.