'No victimisation in corruption arrests,' claims Charamba

'No victimisation in corruption arrests,' claims Charamba
Published: 16 January 2018 (296 Views)
INVESTIGATORS handling corruption cases must follow due process and be thorough so that cases do not collapse in court due to lack of evidence, a senior Government official has said.

Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Permanent Secretary, Mr George Charamba, speaking on ZiFM Stereo on Thursday, said public trials by the media violate suspects' rights.

Responding to recent arrests of former ministers on graft allegations he said no one was being victimised.

"I have had a bit of difficulties with the way we have gone about tackling corruption to be frank with you and I remember I raised this in one of our leadership meetings and my basic difficulty is both societal and Governmental."

"Societal because we tend to measure the impact on cracking down corruption through numerical value of arrests. I don't know whether that's the correct way of doing it," said Mr Charamba.

He said it was critical that investigators follow due process in handling these matters.

"You see, the dilemma that we are facing just now, is of persons who are hauled to courts and then the courts ask them to go away having paid bail of $40.  That should give you a message on the indication of the gravity of the matter, and also you get a case where cases collapse spectacularly which means we have proceeded too fast than investigations can support," he said.

"Let's not be excited, let's follow due process, effect appropriate charges and of course secure appropriate convictions, pass sentences and because of the sheer nature of these sentences, send a very clear signal.

"Fundamentally, you must make sure that those that have strayed from the path of righteousness are brought to book through due process. Once you develop in a nation, a reflex of short-circuiting the course of justice, that is dangerous and bad reflex for a people."

He said even criminals deserve justice.

"I don't think it's a good reflex for us to approach suspects necessarily with handcuffs. First of all they are not resisting arrest.  Secondly, there is no risk that they will run away. There is a way in which we can make them account without necessarily having to look as if we are approaching this whole matter in a high-handed way," he said.

Mr Charamba accused the media of publicly trying suspects.

"My second point of criticism, I don't think newspapers and radio stations are the best media for delivering processes of justice. Yes, justice must be seen to be done but at times it is done before it is actually done and that creates a certain sense of victimisation which does not in any way edify processes which must in fact inspire public confidence," he said.

"So whoever is involved in investigations around errant behaviour must always be mindful that one, the whole world is watching, two those people have rights, three there is due process which must be followed, four there is nothing called public trial."

Turning to the arrests of former ministers, Mr Charamba said there was no retribution but people should be tried for wrong-doing.

"As Zimbabweans I know our bitter past, I know our disappointment with public office holders but that's not a basis of pasting criminality in the face of every character merely because you think they are better off than you are then you think they must have stolen something.

"I have a bit of a problem with that.  There must be presumption of innocence and due process that must be followed and on this point I'm speaking less as a civil servant but more as George Charamba," he said.

- the herald

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