The Facts of Farirai Gumbonzvanda’s Arbitrary Arrest and Detention

Farirai Gumbonzvanda, 25, is a young Zimbabwean social justice and girls’ rights advocate. Currently serves as a mentor and community volunteer with Rozaria Memorial Trust – a non-governmental, non-political, and not for profit organization in Zimbabwe. Farirai has never advocated or belonged to an organization that advocates for the use of violence.

Arrests and Charges: Arbitrarily arrested without cause at the Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare by security operatives on 21 May 2019; Currently remanded in custody at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison.

The total false and baseless allegations against her include: intent to subvert and overthrow the constitutionally elected Government of Zimbabwe; counter-intelligence, and acts of terrorism. Charges that are not only false , but that are completely contrary to everything Farirai is and stands for.

Scheduled to re-appear in court June 6, 2019. (Remains in custody at Chikurubi Maximum Prison till then).

Background

Farirai applied for a training workshop in the Maldives that was offered by an organization called CANVAS. She was accepted and she attended the workshop with a few other civil society officials from Zimbabwe. Some of these activists have also been arrested and are facing similar charges. This was her first time to meet with the co-accused and other organisations.

Training was from May 15 – 19, 2019. The content of the training covered the following topics: Non-violent Tools and Tactics for Civic Engagement; Building Unity through Articulating a Strong Vision for Tomorrow; Designing and Different Tools for Effective Communication; Protecting One’s Privacy and Security from Threats of Trolling, Fake News etc with special focus on Digital Security and Safe Communications.

On 17 May, 2019, the state-controlled The Herald newspaper published a shocking and false story with the headline: “Plot to Unleash Violence Unearthed” in which the paper accused among others, the Rozaria Memorial Trust as part of groups undergoing training for subversive purposes.

Rozria Memorial Trust, shocked by the appalling mischaracterization of the organization, issued an official statement on the same day to condemn and reject the misrepresentation by the newspaper and demanded an immediate retraction and apology.

Farirai despite the shock with the news decided to complete her training and return to Zimbabwe without delay.

She was arrested upon her arrival at the airport on 21 May 29, 2019 with four others.

She had a pretrial appearance in court on May 23, 2019 and was remanded in custody until June 6, 2019.

The court remanded her, despite the absence of evidence to establish a prima facie case.

Her lawyers were advised to approach the High Court for bail Bail application.

Nature of the Charges: Third Schedule Offence; Carries a Sentence of minimum 20 years or life imprisonment; Serious Criminal Offence, under the Public Order and Security Act (POSA).

Her Quest for Freedom and Justice

  1. Immediate release and freedom
  2. Full Protection of her Rights Under the 2013 Constitution of Zimbabwe
  3. Liberty and at minimum for remand out of custody without conditions
  4. Dismissal of the case

Legal Representation

Farirai’s parents have appointed Jessie Majome and Co. to represent Farirai, through the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

She is also receiving support for legal research and pastoral care through the Zimbabwe Council of Churches.

Extensive support, solidarity and pro bono service are also being received from many well wishers including girls, former classmates and organisations in the country, in region and across the world.

We ask for your prayers and solidarity for Farirai.

@FreedomForFarirai #FreedomForFarirai #FreeFarirai #FreeThemAll

Source: Rozaria Memorial Trust (RMT)