MACRAD Director Epraim Mutombeni Arrested, Denied Bail and Remanded in Custody to 13 July Under Trumped Up Charges

Macrad director Epraim Mutombeni was arrested on Sunday (28/06/20) after subsequent days of being trailed and followed by suspected state security agents driving a Toyota Fortuner without number plates. Mr Epraim Mutombeni was yesterday (30/06/20) remanded by Masvingo Magistrate’s court in custody to 13 July 2020 after being denied bail. He is being accused of contravening Section 33 (2) (a) of the Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act clearly these are trumped up charges. An appeal to the Masvingo High court is being filed currently this morning to secure Epraim Mutombeni’s release and he is being represented by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.

As Macrad’s director has been a vocal critic around indigenous people’s land rights in Masvingo Zimbabwe and most recently has been campaigning against the impending forced evictions of the Shangaan people in Chilonga and Masivamele under Chiredzi District to pave way for grass farming under an investor with strong political links identified as Dendiary Pvt Ltd. Macrad recently produced an inquiry report in to the happenings around these evictions which has generated interest from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission.

Of note is the fact that our director was arrested under frivolous charges on the eve of a crucial meeting with a powerful delegation from the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission led by the Commission’s Chairperson Commissioner E Mugwadi. Moreover, we are convinced that this arrest is not isolated and has everything to do with our work with the Shangaan people of Chiredzi in campaigning for the stop in their pending evictions which have also caught the eyes of the government of Zimbabwe putting prominent individuals from within our institution under surveillance from the state. These arrests are meant to cripple our campaigns but we are convinced even more to continue because the fight for land rights and socio-economic justice is the hall-mark of our work as an institution and we shall continue keeping the state in check.

We hereby demand the immediate release of Mr. Mutombeni and call on the government of Zimbabwe to protect land rights of the Shangaan People in Chiredzi whilst desisting from stifling civil society actors.

Source: Masvingo Centre for Research, Advocacy and Development (MACRAD)