Zim Court Ends Detention of Abductees as Judge Gags Them and Imposes Onerous Bail Conditions

A HIGH Court Judge on Friday 26 June 2020 set free three victims of abduction and torture, who had been languishing in prison for close to two weeks, after they were denied bail by Harare Magistrate Bianca Makwande on Monday 15 June 2020.

High Court Judge Justice Davison Foroma ordered the release from Chikurubi Maximum Prison of Harare West legislator Hon. Joana Mamombe aged 27 years, Cecelia Chimbiri aged 31 years and Netsai Marova aged 25 years, after presiding over the hearing and determination of a bail appeal filed by their lawyers Alec Muchadehama, Jeremiah Bamu, Tinomuda Shoko and Roselyn Hanzi of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova were arrested by Zimbabwe Republic Police members on 11 June 2020 and charged with publishing or communicating false statements prejudicial to the state as defined in section 31(a)(ii) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act and 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.

The trio’s freedom bid had been dismissed by Magistrate Makwande who on 15 June 2020 told Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova that she vetoed their bail application after being convinced that there were compelling reasons not to admit them to bail as they were likely to abscond from trial.

But Justice Foroma on Friday 26 June 2020 set free Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova after ruling that Magistrate Makwande had misdirected herself when she denied bail to Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova.

The Judge ordered the trio to pay RTGS$10 000 each as bail money, to report at the Criminal Investigations Department’s Law and Order Section at Harare Central Police Station on Mondays Wednesdays and Fridays, to continue residing at their given residential addresses, not to interfere with state witnesses and to keep their passports in the possession and custody of the Clerk of Court at Harare Magistrates Court until their matter is finalised.

Justice Foroma also barred the trio from communicating whether directly or otherwise with any of the public and or private media including on social media in connection with their matter.

Hon. Mamombe, Chimbiri and Marova went missing on 13 May 2020, when they were abducted in Harare by some unidentified people and were later 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 Right