31℃ / 87.8℉
Saturday morning in Harare. 4 November 2017. I’ve received a message: please support Martha O’Donovan at her Court Appearance at 1030am. Up Aberdeen, left into King George, onto Prince Edward and then things go Rotten.
Where it’s at
The Magistrate’s Court on Rotten Row is emblematic of how ruined Zimbabwe is. It’s a dirty, depressing, desperate place. This is where Martha has been brought to. Apparently she’s the mastermind behind a social media campaign to attempt to overthrow the Zimbabwean Government by unconstitutional means.
The only response in the face of injustice is courage. – Sharon Wekwete, Harare
Court Number Five (5)
The court room is full. I recognise a few pro-democracy activists. There are many I don’t know. And there are some bench warmers dozing through the proceedings. At the back, leaning against the wall for support, I’m sardine squeezed. And feeling claustrophobic.
The woman in the dock
News on social media said Martha was in high spirits. But in real life, after a dawn raid and a night in Harare’s central police station, she looks tired, very tired. I wonder what’s going through her mind.
They’re trying to send a message. – Joe Black, Harare
The man in the suit
The Investigating Officer, the man who led the raid on Martha’s apartment, looks very uncomfortable. And it’s not because of the heat. He’s ducking and diving under the relentless questioning of Martha’s lawyer, Obey Shava. The suit is coming up short.
The case will not be Tweeted
Comrade Fatso, one of the founders of The Magamba Network is singled out by a court official and taken outside. On his way back in he tells me he’s been told to Stop Tweeting. In the next half hour three people are told to leave the court room. Who knows why because one of the expelled is a gogo (grandmother), and an unlikely #Twimbo. The man in the removals business is dressed in a blue Zimbabwe Police Republic (ZRP) uniform. He takes his job seriously. He sits stock-still and stares hard at the people in front of him.
Police officer who is witness disappears before they can give testimony. – Citizens Manifesto
The disappearing act
The ZRP removals guy gets up and whispers in the State prosecutor’s ear and we are informed that their witness has suddenly disappeared. Obey Shava for the defense laughs and tells the Magistrate that this is a commonly used tactic by the State to frustrate the legal process. And that it’s unacceptable. Go Obey! But the Magistrate is all for obedience it seems – to the State – and the session is adjourned for two hours.
In the corridors
I get a few words with Martha and she says that when the court emptied at the adjournment, she said to herself, wow – all these people were here for Me. The power of solidarity.
Despite persuasive argument from Martha’s legal team, the Magistrate rules that she will be been remanded in custody to 15 November 2017 pending a bail hearing at the High Court. Until then Martha is being held at Chikurubi Maximum Prison. The High Court hearing is on 6 November.
When you dream alone, the dream remains just a dream; if you dream with others, you create reality. – Subcomandante Marcos