Ivory Suspects Approach High Court (Harare, Zimbabwe)


The Herald

Date Published

Two Harare women who are facing charges of unlawful possession of 25,9
kilogrammes of raw ivory valued at $6 475 are now seeking the
intervention of the High Court to stop their trial, pending the
determination of their constitutional challenge in the highest court.

Winnet Munyonga (36) and Chiedza Chiutsi (33) are stopping at nothing
to get a fair trial and have justice to their case in view of the
seriousness of the allegations against them.

The duo, last week hired Advocate Tawanda Zhuwarara, to file a
constitutional application seeking an order to compel the prosecution
to disclose the informant in what is expected to be a landmark case.

In the urgent application filed in the High Court on Monday, the women
are seeking temporary stay of the proceedings at the magistrates’

“Such stay is requested pending the determination of a direct
constitutional application filed under CCZ25/ 16,” said Adv Zhuwarara.

In the constitutional matter, the women contend that the prosecution’s
refusal to avail the identity of an informant whose evidence
precipitated in their arrest and prosecution violated their right to
information as espoused in Section 62(2) of the Constitution.

They said the magistrate’s decision also violated their right to
adduce and challenge evidence as enumerated in Section 70(1) (h) as
well as right to adequate facilities to prepare a defence.

“Applicants have raised cogent constitutional questions in CCZ25 /16,
which they are likely to get,” said Adv Zhuwarara adding, “If a
temporary stay of proceedings is not granted the applicants will
suffer irreparable harm as they will be tried without the actuation of
their constitutional entitlements as accused persons.”

Munyonga and Chiutsi were arrested in December last year when police
searched their vehicle and recovered eight uncut pieces of ivory.

The women had parked their car along Robert Mugabe Road and were
searched when they returned to the car some hours later.

Police say they received the information from an unnamed informant.

However, before the women entered their plea, they asked the
prosecution to reveal the name of the informant so that he/she could
explain how he/she knew they had ivory when they were not aware of its
existence in the vehicle.

Allegations against Munyonga and Chiutsi are that on December 12,
Detective Assistant Inspector Kufa of CID Drugs picked up information
from a reliable informer that the two were in possession of raw ivory.

The court heard that Det Kufa teamed up with Det Sgt Murahwa and
reacted to the information.

It is alleged that they rushed to the scene and spotted the vehicle, a
gold-coloured CRV, parked on the right side of Robert Mugabe Road.

The court heard that there was no one in the vehicle and Det Kufa and
Det Sgt Murahwa waited next to the vehicle for the return of the

The two entered into the vehicle and Munyonga allegedly sat on the
driver’s seat while Chiutsi sat on the front passenger seat.

It is the State’s case that the detectives approached Munyonga and
Chiutsi and informed them of the purpose of their visit and they both
consented to the vehicle search.

During the search the detectives recovered eight pieces of raw ivory
which were inside a blue sack.