Pardoned rapists evade judgment of own appeal

Court goes ahead with the ruling tomorrow

Thursday March 22, 2018

By Joe Lihundi

Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha

A famous musician, Mr Nguza Viking, and his son Johnson on Wednesday dodged judgment of the case they filed at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR) based in Arusha, Tanzania.

The AfCHPR President, Justice Sylvain Ore, adjourned the case to tomorrow after communicating with the applicants who were serving a life sentence in prison in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Justice Ore was flanked by the AfCHPR Vice President, Justices Ben Kioko and Justices Gerard Niyungeko, El Hadji Guisse, Rafaa Ben Achour, Angelo Matusse, Ntyam Mengue, Marie Therese Mukamulisa, Tujilane Chizumila and Bensaoula Chafika.

Mr Nguza and Johnson, who are the citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo living and working in Tanzania, are apparently hesitant to continue with the case following the pardon they received from the President of Tanzania on December 9, 2017.

Mr Daniel Kalasha, a lawyer, said in an interview with journalists immediately after the case was adjourned that the African Court’s decision will, in anyway, not have any impact on the pardon President Magufuli extended to the applicants.

He said unless the applicants had withdrawn the case after the presidential pardon, the African Court will also be free to go ahead with and deliver its judgment tomorrow.

Johnson Nguza alias Papii Kocha (left) address the media in a past event, as Nguza Viking, his father, looks on. PHOTOS | AGENCIES

“Weather the African Court finds them guilty of the offences or not, the judgment will not reverse the pardon they legally obtained from the President,” he said.

But how will the international community regard Tanzania’s human rights record in case the African Court finds the legally pardoned applicants guilty of the offense or not? It remains to be seen.

The Dar es Salaam-based Kisutu Resident Magistrate’s Court found Mr Nguza, who is popularly known as Babu Seya, and his son aka Papii Kocha guilty of defiling 10 schoolgirls aged between six and eight years in 2004.

They filed an appeal at the Tanzania High Court but it was dismissed, compelling them to appeal to the Tanzania Court of Appeal where they were found guilty of four out of 10 rape charges they faced at the lower court.

Babu Seya and Papii Kocha exhausted all local remedies by asking for a review of the case to no avail, prompting them to recourse to the African Court.

In the application they filed at the AfCHPR, Babu Seya and Papii Kocha allege that the Tanzania government had breached Articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 7(1)(b) and 18(1) of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights.

The prosecution’s failure to indicate dates they committed the alleged offences denied them opportunity for preparing their defence, they say.

Tanzania’s President John Magufuli meets a famous musician from the Democratic Republic of Congo Nguza Viking (second left) and his biological son Johnson Nguza (right) when they went to State House to thank him for pardoning them.

They poke holes in the local court, saying it heavily relied on uncorroborated evidence tendered by the prosecution with too many inconsistencies.

The Tanzania government’s officials had violated all accepted principles of human rights and international law, they claim.

They, therefore, pleaded with the African Court to declare their rights violated, clarify facts of the case and assist the local court in dispensing justice.

They also requested the African Court to order the Tanzania government to set them free, grant them reparation and any other remedy the court might find essential.

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