ZLHR Secures Release of Protest Detainees on Bail

HARARE Magistrate Ngoni Nduna on Saturday 1 August 2020 granted bail to 13 residents of the capital city, who appeared before him facing various charges after they were arrested by some Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) members in different suburbs for allegedly taking part in anti-government demonstrations.

Magistrate Nduna granted RTGS$5 000 bail to renowned author and film maker Tsitsi Dangarembga and Julie Gabriel Barnes and ordered them to report at some ZRP stations once a week on Fridays, not to interfere with state witnesses, continue residing at their given residential addresses and surrender their passports until their matter is finalised.

Dangarembga and Barnes, who were represented by Chris Mhike, Alec Muchadehama and Paidamoyo Saurombe of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) were charged with participating in a public gathering with intention to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37(1)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Prosecutors Michael Reza and Tendai Shonhayi alleged that Dangarembga and Barnes participated in a demonstration in Borrowdale suburb while holding some placards inscribed “Free Hopewell, free Jacob #Zimbabwe”, “We want better reform our institution” and “Free our journalists”.

Dangarembga and Barnes were also charged with unnecessary movement during the COVID-19 National Lockdown without any exemption with prosecutors pressing a charge of contravening section 4(1)(a) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order Statutory Instrument 77/2020.

Mhike, Muchadehama, Saurombe told Magistrate Nduna that they will file some written submissions on complaints against some ZRP members regarding the manner in which Dangarembga and Barnes were arrested, challenge their placement on remand and also challenge the manner in which the charge of unnecessary movement was surreptitiously put to their clients. Dangarembga and Barnes return to court on 18 September 2020.

Magistrate Nduna also set free lawyer and opposition MDC-Alliance party spokesperson Advocate Fadzayi Mahere together with six other Harare residents namely Tinotenda Muskwe, Tinashe Murapata, Jessica Drury, Nyasha Musandu, Josse Lotter and Simon Drury by granting each of them RTGS$5 000 bail and ordering them to report at various ZRP stations once a week on Fridays, not to interfere with state witnesses, continue residing at their given residential addresses and surrender their passports until their matter is finalised.

Mahere, Muskwe, Murapata, Jessica, Musandu, Lotter and Simon, who were represented by Mhike, Muchadehama, Saurombe of ZLHR and Andrea Dracos of Honey and Blanckenberg Legal Practitioners, were arrested on Friday 31 July 2020 by ZRP members and charged with participating in a public gathering with intention to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37(1)(b) of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Mahere, Muskwe, Murapata, Jessica, Musandu, Lotter and Simon were also charged with unnecessary movement during the COVID-19 National Lockdown without any exemption with prosecutors pressing a charge of contravening section 4(1)(a) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order Statutory Instrument 77/2020.

Reza and Shonhayi told Magistrate Nduna that Mahere, Muskwe, Murapata, Jessica, Musandu, Lotter and Simon participated in an illegal demonstration in Mt Pleasant suburb while holding some placards written “Free Zim”, “#Free MDC Trio”, “#Stop abductions” and “#Hands off Constitution”.

Mhike, Muchadehama, Saurombe and Dracos told Magistrate Nduna that they will file some written submissions outlining their clients’ complaints against ZRP members and will also challenge the placement on remand of their clients including the inclusion of the charge of unnecessary movement of which no warned and cautioned statements were recorded from the accused persons before they were hurriedly brought to court.

Mahere, Muskwe, Murapata, Jessica, Musandu, Lotter and Simon will be back in court on 18 September 2020.

Terrence Guta aged 26 years and Loveridge Chinzvende aged 32 years were arrested on Friday 31 July 2020 along Sherwood road in Strathaven suburb and charged with participating in a public gathering with intention to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37(1)(b) of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Guta and Chinzvende, who were represented by Douglas Coltart of ZLHR, were also charged with unnecessary movement during the COVID-19 National Lockdown without any exemption in what prosecutors said is defined in section 4(1)(a) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order Statutory Instrument 77/2020.

Reza and Shonhayi alleged that Guta and Chinzvende carried some placards with messages which read; “No Corruption”, “Stop Abductions”, “Free Zimbabwe” “Free Hope and Jacob” and “End Hunger”.

Guta and Chinzvende were granted RTGS$5 000 bail each by Magistrate Nduna and ordered to report at some ZRP stations once a week on Fridays, not to interfere with state witnesses, continue residing at their given residential addresses and surrender passports in respect of Guta.

Guta and Chinzvende return to court on 18 September 2020, where the court will entertain hearing of complaints which the duo have against ZRP members, who arrested and severely assaulted them while they were detained in a bush. Coltart also intends to challenge the placement of his clients on remand.

Paul Besa, a resident of Sunningdale suburb was also arrested on 31 July 2020 in Graniteside industrial area by some ZRP members who claimed that he held some placards written “Respect our Constitution”, “You can ignore or kill us but you will regret” and “Hope is our hero”.

Besa was charged with incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act alternatively incitement to participate in a public gathering with intention to promote public violence, breach of peace or bigotry as defined in Section 37(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Besa, who was represented by Tapiwa Muchineripi of ZLHR, was also charged with unnecessary movement during the COVID-19 National Lockdown without any exemption in what prosecutors said was defined in section 4(1)(a) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order Statutory Instrument 77/2020.

Like the other accused persons, Muchineripi told Magistrate Nduna that he will file some written submissions detailing his client’s complaints against ZRP members and will also challenge the placement on remand of his client including the surreptitious inclusion of the charge of unnecessary movement.

Another Harare resident Phillip Chamunorwa Ndengu of Glenview suburb was also arrested on Friday 31 July 2020 by ZRP members who charged him with incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 37(1)(a) of Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act alternatively incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(a) as read with section 36(1)(a) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

Besa, who was represented by Ephraim Ndlovu of Mabundu and Ndlovu Law Chambers, was also charged with unnecessary movement during the COVID-19 National Lockdown without any exemption in what prosecutors said is defined in section 4(1)(a) of the Public Health (COVID-19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) Order Statutory Instrument 77/2020.

Reza and Shonhayi alleged that Besa was seen by some police officers on Friday 31 July 2020 at around 05:45 am while taking pictures in the central business centre.

The prosecutors claimed that Besa insulted some police officers as people who were letting down the majority of Zimbabweans by taking an active role in barring demonstrations aimed at removing President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government.

The police officers went on to seize Besa’s mobile phone handset and proceeded to check some messages and found a self-recorded video where he was saying “I am sick and tired of the government, it is torturing people and it is not paying good salaries to its security forces”, “tirikuda vanhu vane nzara nehasha to fight and effect regime change in Zimbabwe”.

Reza and Shonhayi charged that after going through Besa’s mobile phone handset, ZRP members also discovered that he is an active participant in two WhatsApp groups titled “31 July Blood Demo” which has 255 participants and #31 July Mass Protest” with 244 members

The two groups, prosecutors alleged, were “awash” with audios, messages and videos shared and used to incite people to participate in the 31 July 2020 “illegal” demonstrations and commit public violence.

In Bulawayo, Panashe Vongai Sivindani was set free on Saturday 1 August 2020 on RTGS$2 000 bail after she appeared at Bulawayo Magistrates Court answering to charges of incitement to commit public violence as defined in section 187(1)(a)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act as read with section 36(1)(a)(b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

In court, prosecutors alleged that the 22 year-old university student intentionally displayed placards bearing the message; “#No to corruption”, #Free Hopewell”, “#No to nepotism”, “#No commissioned law enforcement and justice system” and “#We want accountability” while inside TM Supermarket at Ascot Shopping Centre.

Prosecutors charged that they managed to identify Sivindani after viewing video footage of a CCTV recording which they obtained from an unnamed manager at TM Supermarket which showed the university student displaying the alleged placards as she carried out her shopping.

Source: Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights