Abductees to Spend Weekend in Jail

THREE victims of abduction and torture will spend the weekend in jail after Harare Magistrate Bianca Makwande indicated that she will hand down her ruling on their bail application next week after they were arrested on Wednesday 10 June 2020 and charged with falsifying their abduction and torture at the hands of suspected state security agents.

Harare West legislator Hon. Joana Mamombe aged 27 years, Cecelia Chimbiri aged 31 years and Netsai Marova aged 25 years appeared before Magistrate Makwande after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police members and charged with a cocktail of charges including publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(iii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

The trio was also charged with defeating or obstructing the course of justice as defined in section 184(1)(f) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prosecutor Charles Muchemwa told Magistrate Makwande that Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova stage managed their abduction and told falsehoods to their lawyers, relatives and friends that they had been abducted on 13 May 2020.

Muchemwa said the false statements by the MDC-Alliance youth leaders attracted some adverse comments from local and international organisations including from some heads of missions at some foreign embassies and the United Nations Special Rapporteurs, who condemned the abduction and torture, thereby tarnishing the image of the country and affecting the country’s prospects of an economic recovery.

In response to the allegations by Muchemwa, Alec Muchadehama and Jeremiah Bamu, the lawyers from Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, representing the trio told Magistrate Makwande that their clients were being victimised for seeking justice over their abduction, torture and sexual molestation and that the arrest and prosecution of the trio was an attempt by Zimbabwean authorities to cover up their abduction and torture.

The lawyers argued that their clients who are victims of abduction and enforced disappearance and torture had been turned into villains.

While Muchemwa had argued that Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova should be denied bail and detained in prison because they would flee Zimbabwe with the assistance of some foreign embassies before they stand trial, Muchadehama and Bamu dismissed the claim as scandalous.

Magistrate Makwande postponed the matter to Monday 15 June 2020 when she will hand down her ruling on the trio’s bail application.

Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova went missing on 13 May 2020 when they were abducted in Harare and were found on 15 May 2020 after being dumped in Bindura in Mashonaland Central province.

They have already been charged with committing public violence after they were arrested on 26 May 2020 for allegedly participating in an anti-government protest against hunger during the national lockdown period as defined in section 37 of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and for contravening section 5(3) (a) as read with section 5(1) of Statutory Instrument 99 of 2020 of Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order, 2020 and will stand trial in August.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights