Students, Unionist Set Free for Protesting Against the Detention of Abductees and Demanding USD Salaries

Chinhoyi Magistrate Felix Mawadze on Tuesday 23 June 2020 released eight Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) students, who had been arrested for allegedly protesting against the clampdown on human rights defenders in Zimbabwe and rising incidents of police brutality.

Magistrate Mawadze granted free bail to the eight CUT students who appeared at Chinhoyi Magistrates Court after they were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members and charged with participating in a gathering likely to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry as defined in section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

In court, prosecutors alleged that the CUT students, who include 21 year-old Faustina Talent Madawa, the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) National Vice-President, Lionel Shayahama aged 24 years, who is a former leader of the CUT Students Representative Council, Shamisi Whide aged 26 years, Nicola Makasu aged 22 years, Melody Tsitsi Madalamete aged 22, Ignatius Lochombo aged 26 years, Brian Mushakwe aged 23 years and Norman Makamanzi aged 24 years, produced and raised some placards during a lecture and distributed them to students with messages protesting against the continued detention of Harare West legislator Hon. Joanah Mamombe and two MDC-Alliance party youth leaders Cecelia Chimbiri and Netsai Marova.

Prosecutors claimed that the CUT students, who were represented by Kudzai Choga of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), raised some placards with messages that read; “Free Netsai Joana”, “#Girl child Excel”, “People Power” and “Justice for Netsai Cecelia Joana”. The CUT students return to court on 14 July 2020.

In Masvingo, Magistrate Patience Madondo on Tuesday 23 June 2020 granted RTGS$500 bail to Shilla Chisirimunhu, the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) Provincial Secretary for Gender in Masvingo, who was arrested on Monday 22 June 2020 and charged with participating in a gathering likely to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry as defined in section 37(1)(a)(i) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act alternatively contravening section 4(1)(a) of Statutory Instrument 83/20 as read with section 3(a) of Statutory Instrument 110/20 for unnecessary movement during the national lockdown.

Prosecutors accused Chisirimunhu, who was represented by Martin Mureri of ZLHR, of participating in an anti-government protest allegedly staged by ARTUZ members in Masvingo where they allegedly went to Masvingo District Education Offices and dumped a mock coffin inscribed “Rest in Peace my ZWL salary” while singing some protest songs with the lyrics “zvemabond ndozvandisingade mumba mangu” while holding a placard inscribed “Teachers’ Lives Matter. Poor Teachers=Poor Nation. @ARTUZ.”

The state said other protestors carried eight placards inscribed with various messages including one written “@ARTUZ-Teachers we want our salaries in US$ 520 among other messages.

Magistrate Madondo ordered Chisirimunhu to continue residing at her given residential address and not to interfere with state witnesses until her matter is finalised. Chisirimunhu returns to court on 21 July 2020.

Earlier on, Harare Magistrate Barbra Mateko on Saturday 20 June 2020 granted RTGS$3 000 bail each to Namatai Kwekweza and Vongai Zimudzi, who were arrested by some ZRP members on Friday 19 June 2020 and charged with contravening section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prosecutors told Magistrate Mateko that Kwekweza aged 22 years and who is a member of WeLead Organisation and Zimudzi aged 23 years and who is a member of Section 20 Organisation, allegedly gathered at the New Government Complex in Harare, where they intended to hand over a petition to Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Hon. Ziyambi Ziyambi in which they were protesting against the holding of some public hearings into the proposed constitutional amendments.

Kwekweza and Zimudzi, who were represented by Rudo Bere and Tinashe Chinopfukutwa of ZLHR, were also ordered to report at Harare Central Police Station once every week and to surrender their passports at the Clerk of Court at Harare Magistrates Court as part of their bail conditions. The two return to court on 20 July 2020.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR)