ZIMBABWE: 15 DEATH ROW INMATES HIRE BITI'S FOR CONSTITUTIONAL COURT FIGHT
January 10, 2016: Opposition politician and Harare lawyer Tendai Biti has been hired by 15 death row prison inmates to represent them in a case in which they want the Constitutional Court to commute their sentences to life imprisonment.
Their plea, which is being facilitated by a local NGO Veritas, has been set for hearing this coming Wednesday (January 13).
Convicted murderer Cuthbert Tapuwanashe Chawira (45) and 14 other murder convicts have been languishing in prison for periods of between four and 20 years.
Biti said he had 14 separate affidavits from the inmates explaining the conditions in prisons and the psychological torture that they suffered as a result of their placement on death row.
Given that his clients had served lengthy prison terms with various problems associated with incarceration in Zimbabwean prisons, Biti submitted that the correct remedy was to for the court to declare unconstitutional the continued incarceration and the blanket imposition of the life sentence.
āThe court can make any order which is in the interest of justiceā¦ refer back to the High Court or resentencing taking into account the delay and what would have taken place over the years,ā he said.
Chawira in his case, has been on the death row since September 2000 over a 1999 armed robbery which led to the murder of a Fairmile Motel employee in Gweru.
"Our address for the purpose of this action is care of our legal practitioners of record Tendai Biti Law from 28 Rowland Square, Milton Park, Harare," the inmates say in their affidavit.
They want the highest court in the land on constitutional matters to define their fundamental rights as enshrined in Sections 51 and 53 of the national charter.
"Our contention in this matter is that we are entitled to the right to human dignity protected by Section 51 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe," the inmates say. (Sources: allafrica.com, 10/01/2016; African News Agency, 13/01/2016)