The historic fall of the ‘invincible’ Munyaradzi Kereke

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The conviction and jailing of Bikita West MP Munyaradzi Kereke for rape last week was hailed as a victory for justice and among those celebrating the judgement was Francis Maramwidze.

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Maramwidze was the guardian of the girl abused at gunpoint by the once powerful Kereke at his Harare home over six years ago and if it was not for his determination to seek justice at all costs, Kereke would not be languishing at the Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison following his conviction last Monday.

“I was cleansed by the verdict. So many things had been said about my integrity. I am cleansed white like snow. I went and cried in the toilet soon after Kereke was convicted,” said an emotional Maramwidze.

Maramwidze is the maternal grandfather of the minor who was raped by the former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) senior official in 2010.
He poured out his heart to The Standard in an a exclusive interview two days after Kereke was convicted and sentenced to 14 years in prison for rape.

Kereke will serve 10 years after regional magistrate Noel Mupeiwa suspended four years of his sentence on condition that he is not convicted of a similar offence within five years.

The gruelling six-month trial ended with Mupeiwa reading his three-hour long judgement.

During the trial, Kereke claimed the allegations were malicious and politically-motivated. He said former vice-president Joice Mujuru and ex-RBZ governor Gideon Gono were behind the plot to send him to jail.

Kereke also accused Maramwidze of influencing the minors to report the rape because he had refused to help them out with school fees.
“It [conviction]was such a relief after I was accused of looking for money, being political and using the children as pawns in my fights. The cost and time it has taken are justified,” Maramwidze said.

The road to justice was long and winding as it took the family six years to get the then powerful Kereke to stand in the dock.

Maramwidze started on his own, going to and fro police stations to push for the docket to be completed without success.

Frustrated by authorities, Maramwidze sought the services of lawyer and family friend Charles Warara to help him with legal issues.

“As a family, we were kept together by prayer and faith in God. [For] anything legal I relied on Warara,” Maramwidze said.

He added, “I can now recite all the Psalms from chapter 1 to 118. It gave us strength as a family.”

After Warara’s involvement, the case soon became a legal issue that would revolutionalise Zimbabwe’s criminal justice system.

Warara made an application to the High Court seeking to compel the Prosecutor-General Johannes Tomana to issue a private prosecution certificate as the State did not want to prosecute Kereke.

The court ruled in Warara’s favour but Tomana appealed to the Supreme Court.

Tomana lost again before he made a last ditch attempt at the Constitutional Court, with no success.

The legal drama all in all took six years before Kereke could stand in the dock.

The trial drained Maramwidze’s financial resources but Warara did not ditch the family. Warara pursued the matter without payment after Kereke sued him at the High Court for defamation.

“Kereke started attacking me personally. It was no longer a case for me but it was now part of me. It was a matter of my reputation at stake,” Warara said.

Warara added, “2012 marked the turning point. Kereke’s lawyer threatened to sue me personally. At that point, I realised I had reached a point of no return, there was no retreat anymore or Kereke would have me.”

The triumphant Warara, the first lawyer in independent Zimbabwe to successfully pursue a private prosecution in a criminal case, said the victory was a huge relief.

Maramwidze concluded, “The trial ceased to be personal but now had a national dimension — we cannot let senior people abuse their offices.

“No amount of money is worth the relief we feel now.”

As this chapter concludes, Maramwidze and Warara have started another legal battle; suing the State for failing to give their client protection of the law and justice.

They say it is not the money they are after, but to establish a principle that the State has to do its duty as enshrined in the Constitution.-AMH

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